‘SHE WOLF, Margaret of Anjou’
UC Santa Barbara’s Launch Pad’s Latest Work Looks at England’s Queen Margaret
Every year, UCSB’s Launch Pad program brings a brand-new play to the stage for a fully mounted preview production. This year’s unveiling is of playwright Katie Bender’s SHE WOLF, Margaret of Anjou, a work detailing the life and times of the English monarch known for her role in the Wars of the Roses.
“Before I started writing this play,” says Bender, “what I knew about Margaret of Anjou I knew from Shakespeare, from the history plays, where she’s much misaligned and written off as this scheming, overly ambitious woman who, through her foibles, led England into civil war. But … as I started researching her, the huge difference between how she’s written about and what her life was actually like was so stark that I thought, here’s an interesting character, a woman who was promised in marriage as a bid for peace, and who I think was working toward that peace and ended up getting caught in this war.”
SHE WOLF was written in response to Shakespeare’s Henry VI. “The play came out of this cold, analytical place of a response,” says Bender, “but as I wrote it, I really fell in love with the characters.” SHE WOLF focuses on Margaret and the women in her court, with the main query of the production centered around how these women navigate the existing power structures.
The show, directed by Launch Pad artistic director Risa Brainin, runs February 22-March 5 at the Performing Arts Theater on the UCSB campus. Bender describes the play as funny and sexy, and she hopes the production is “a good balance of larger contemporary themes that we’re all wrestling with (including plague, inequality, civil unrest, ambition, extreme violence, xenophobia, and misogyny) and a fun, pseudo-historical romp through a story that we could all relearn.”
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit theaterdance.ucsb.edu.
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