As spring approaches, Cal State Fullerton’s College of the Arts prepares to dish out the light-hearted “The Merry Wives of Windsor” at the Clayes Performing Arts Center in the Young Theatre on Friday night.
“The Merry Wives of Windsor” is one of many famous William Shakespeare comedies. Sir John Falstaff is the play’s protagonist. He’s an overweight greedy knight who needs money and is tempted to woo two married women, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, by sending them identical love letters, said Sarah Ripper, master of fine arts student in theater arts-directing and director of the play.
The play deals with multiple plots, including one about Anne Page, Mistress Page’s daughter, who has three potential suitors to marry, Ripper said. Master and Mistress Page have different opinions on who their daughter should marry, but Anne Page has her own solution.
The play takes place in Windsor, England in the 1940s, post-World War II, at a time where women worked to take care of the land. Ripper said she centralized the play’s message around the ideal of strong women making their own decisions and standing for themselves.
Ripper hopes that women feel empowered to make their own choices and take a stance on their personal beliefs.
The play touches on themes of marriage, love, revenge, loyalty, infidelity and mistaken identities, Ripper said.
“A lot of people get intimidated by the language of Shakespeare, but by watching it and seeing the actions and seeing the comedy of it, I think that they’re going to learn that Shakespeare isn’t that tough to follow,” Ripper said.
Tina Burkhalter, CSUF grad student, will play Mistress Page. She said she is certain everyone will enjoy the play because of its high energy and fun and light-hearted atmosphere.
“If you’re gonna come to the show, be prepared to laugh and be prepared to be a part of the story that the Merry Wives are telling,” Burkhalter said.
Ryan Mclean, 23, applied studies major, will play Bardolph, a member of Falstaff’s entourage. He said that students who attend will not regret watching the play. “‘The Merry Wives’ is actually super funny. A lot of the jokes that Shakespeare wrote in the show are a lot of references that we would use now,” Mclean said.
“The Merry Wives of Windsor” was last performed at CSUF in 2003, said Ripper. She decided to bring it back this semester in honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
During Shakespeare’s time, women were not allowed to act, so men were cast as women in plays. Ripper will do the same by having men play women’s roles and vice versa. The play involves action and movement, requiring four different locations on a two-story set will rotate as the setting changes throughout the play.
“This play is ridiculously fun and yet explores a variety of characters that you can identify with,” Ripper said.
Ripper invites students to give Shakespeare a chance. The show promises to have music, movement, a handmade set, a lot of laughs, surprises and a good time at the theater, Ripper said. “The Merry Wives of Windsor” begins playing this Friday and will run until March 26. Tickets are on sale starting March 12 for $14 and $12 with a student ID.