The Book of Will: Getting Shakespeare’s Stories Straight

Without William Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have literary masterpieces like Romeo and Juliet. But without Henry Condell and John Heminges, we would have lost half of Shakespeare’s plays forever.

Discover the beat-the-clock race to gather the Bard’s scattered masterpieces and save a legacy in Towngate Theatre’s production of “The Book of Will,” by Lauren Gunderson.

This lively, funny, and poignant play will be staged for two weekends—March 18, 19, 20 and March 25 & 26.

About the Play

“The Book of Will” begins three years after Shakespeare’s death. His closest friends and fellow actors deeply miss him and his beautiful plays. When a pirated, badly botched Hamlet hits a local playhouse, they decide to set the record—and literary and theatrical history—straight.

They take on a money-hungry publisher, a drunken poet laureate, and their own mortality as they piece together a little book we call the First Folio.

“The Book of Will” is a mixture of fact and fiction. We can’t know the complete details and full motivations for gathering and creating the First Folio, but through Gunderson’s joyful and poignant play, it is great fun to imagine.

Great Ensemble Cast

The play focuses on the lives of two of the surviving actors of Shakespeare’s theater troupe—John Heminges, played by Jamie Hamilton, and Henry Condell, played by Vincent Marshall.  However, it is really an ensemble piece, with a very talented, 18-member cast, directed by Cathie Spencer.

In addition to Hamilton and Marshall, the cast includes John Reilly, Dee Gregg, Rachel Thompson, Rob DeSantis, Karissa Martin, Frank Wilson, Alexander Hill, David Gaudio, Robert Gaudio, Kim Brown, Eric Dutton, Wayne McCord, Rich Ivan, Maria McKelvey, John Papadimitriou, and Audrey Kenamond.

About the Playwright

Gunderson is one of the most produced living American playwrights, with over 20 plays produced. She is also a screenwriter and short story author. While her focus is very broad, much of her work has an activist element and focuses on female figures in history, science, and literature.

See the Show

Curtain for Towngate’s production of “The Book of Will” is at 8pm on March 18, 19, 25 and 26, and 3pm Sunday, March 20. This production is presented with support from Towngate’s season sponsor Unified Bank.

 Purchase tickets online or call 304-242-7700. You can purchase at the door, if available. Box office opens one hour prior to curtain.

About Towngate

Towngate Theatre is in Wheeling’s historic Centre Market District. This church-turned-theater is one of several Wheeling venues operated by the non-profit Oglebay Institute. Other OI facilities include: The Stifel Fine Arts Center and School of Dance on National Road, the Mansion Museum, Glass Museum and Schrader Environmental Education Center in Oglebay.

In addition to community theater, Towngate offers children’s theater, ballet, improvisational comedy, and live music. Towngate is also a single screen cinema, offering movies on select evenings and features changing art exhibitions in The Gallery at Towngate. Theater classes are also offered year-round.