Tag Archives: viewpoint

Robin Hood, through the eyes of Marian’s ‘Lady in Waiting’

Whether portrayed by a swashbuckling Errol Flynn or a conflicted Kevin Costner, Robin Hood has always been interpreted more as myth than man. Theater RED, a relatively new Milwaukee theater company, reverses the equation. In its latest world premiere, A Lady in Waiting, the troupe adopts a female point of view that presents the legendary male outlaw on a human scale.

Penned by Wisconsin playwright Liz Shipe (who also plays Maid Marian in the production), the story is told from the perspective of Marian’s handmaid Aria (Kelly Doherty). Shipe says Aria’s quick tongue and sharp insights shed new light on familiar characters like Robin Hood (Zachary Thomas Woods) and the Sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew J. Patten), as well as the play’s other Merry Men and royals, thus muddling the usually stark distinctions between heroes and villains.

The play begins with Robin Hood already established as the outlaw prince of Sherwood Forest, so both Aria and the audience are inserted in medias res. “Everything I read positioned Robin Hood as the main character, and that seemed the logical way to go,” Shipe says. “But I wanted to look at Robin Hood through the lens of someone who might not see him as a hero, learning about him as the audience does.”

Shipe says telling the story from a female perspective also gives the play some contemporary flavoring, although she hesitates to label its viewpoint as explicitly feminist.

“The original idea was to create a medieval buddy-on-the-road story for two women and a bunch of fellas,” Shipe says. “(But) over the course of writing it, the play did become much more about what it is to be a woman in any society — which is a great thing to put in the spotlight.”

The unconscious shift in perspective fits well with Theater RED’s creative ethos. Married co-founders Christopher Elst and Marcee Doherty-Elst established the company last year as a way to present premiere works from local authors and plays that offer substantial roles for women and new artists. Their first full production A Thousand Times Goodnight was a particularly good example: an original, Shakespeare-esque adaptation of The Arabian Nights by local writer Jared McDaris that centered on Scheherazade as the lead character.

Neither Elst nor Doherty-Elst had extensive experience or education in theater arts until reaching adulthood. Elst majored in literature and has a background in fencing, with advanced actor combatant certification from the Society of American Fight Directors. Doherty-Elst, a trained skater, majored in sociology and statistics. But the two became independently involved in local productions, learning about theater from fellow cast members as they went along. 

“We credit the theater training we have received from being involved in productions with amazing actors, musicians and directors,” Doherty-Elst says. “We learned from working alongside the best and are often cast in the same shows, which is great fun and nice to have our schedules align.”

Starting Theater RED has allowed the couple to share what they’ve learned with others, including Shipe. She’s excited about sharing her unique vision of the Robin Hood myth.

“Robin Hood’s story has been told from his point of view a lot, and I thought that shifting the focus a bit would breathe some life into the story,” Shipe says. “I hope other people feel that way, too.”

ON STAGE

Theater RED’s production of Liz Shipe’s A Lady in Waiting runs Aug. 7-23 at the Soulstice Theatre, 3770 Pennsylvania Ave., Ste. 2, in St. Francis. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Tickets are $15. Visit www.theaterred.com.

ESPN regrets reporter’s comment about Jason Collins

ESPN says that it regrets the “distraction” caused by one of its reporters who described Jason Collins as a sinner after the NBA center publicly came out as gay.

Chris Broussard, who covers the NBA for ESPN, said on the air that Collins and others in the NBA who engage in premarital sex or adultery were “walking in open rebellion to God, and to Jesus Christ.” Broussard, a former reporter for The New York Times, spoke during ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” program discussing Collins’ announcement.

In an article in Sports Illustrated, Collins became the first athlete in one of the country’s four major male sports leagues to come out as gay.

ESPN’s Josh Krulewitz said the network regrets that a discussion of personal viewpoints became a “distraction.” The network offered its own view of Collins’ news: “ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement,” he said.

During his on-the-air discussion, Broussard described himself as a Christian.

“I don’t agree with homosexuality,” he said. “I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is.”

Broussard in an online message said that he had previously discussed his point of view about homosexuality publicly.

“I realize that some people disagree with my opinion, and I accept and respect that,” he wrote. “As has been the case in the past, my beliefs have not and will not impact my ability to report on the NBA. I believe Jason Collins displayed bravery with his announcement … and I have no objection to him or anyone else playing in the NBA.”

Collins, in an interview with The New York Times this week, noted that he is a Christian, too.

“This is all about tolerance and acceptance and America is the best country in the world because we’re all entitled to our opinions and beliefs but we don’t have to agree,” he said. “And obviously I don’t agree with his statement.”