“Here in D.C. the war of sexes rages, and finds its way on to this best of stages,” rhymed the chorus to open Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual “Will on the Hill” performance Monday night.
And rage it did, with lawmakers and media bigwhigs quoting the bard with a Washingtonian twist to fundraise for the company’s “Text Alive!” program, which brings Shakespeare to local high schools.
In this year’s play, “Midsummer Madness” by Peter Byrne, two lobbyists played by Broadway actor Brandon Uranowitz and "Orange is the New Black" star Samira Wiley vied for a position at the famous firm Stratford, Avon and Bard. To earn the spot, a senior lobbyist, played by actor Edward Gero, has each contender use their gender’s advantages to solve the problems of each client who comes in.
Characters from Shakespeare popped up from time to time to offer their two cents on modern-day political topics.
Issues ranged from Keystone, eliciting a moan from the entire cast, to network newsmen looking for a scoop “in the form of a sound byte, so we can butcher it.” Anti-vaccination moms listening to “the same website that posts videos of pandas hugging kittens” shared the stage with bumbling congressmen and passionate activists.
References to pop culture abounded — Wiley compared Uranowitz’s knowledge of women to “an Axe body spray commercial,” and when one character questioned being “married to a useless parasite,” another quipped, “tell that to Kanye West.” Lady Macbeth’s breathing exercises consisted of inhaling and exhaling “Olivia Pope,” the main character of the popular “Scandal” series.
Those present applauded the event as a fun, bipartisan way to give back to the community.
“Congress needs to make fun of itself more,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). “They’re laughingstocks anyway, so why not take advantage of it?”
The actors enjoyed the costumes as well, with NPR's “All Things Considered” host Robert Siegel saying he felt “like a winged chair” in his long robe, and Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) choosing a costume in green and gold, the colors of Whitefish High School in his district.
Congressional cast members included Sens. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' Who is afraid of the EU's carbon border adjustment plan? MORE (D-Del.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate Judiciary squares off over John Lewis voting rights bill Senate Democrats introduce legislation to strengthen Voting Rights Act 92 legal scholars call on Harris to preside over Senate to include immigration in reconciliation MORE (D-Vt.) and Reps. Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattyLeft warns Pelosi they'll take down Biden infrastructure bill Democrats press Schumer on removing Confederate statues from Capitol Black Caucus meets with White House over treatment of Haitian migrants MORE (D-Ohio), Suzanne BonamiciSuzanne Marie BonamiciFirst new congressional map approved in Oregon after 2020 Census End the practice of hitting children in public schools How we can end the tragedy of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation MORE (D-Ore.), Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.), Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyTrump company in late-stage talks to sell DC hotel: report Trump Hotel lost more than M during presidency, say documents Biden meets with vulnerable House Democrats with agenda in limbo MORE (D-Va.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Janice Hahn (D-Calif.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Jim McDermottJames (Jim) Adelbert McDermottSondland has 'no intention of resigning,' associate says Three women accuse Gordon Sondland of sexual misconduct Portland hotel chain founded by Trump ambassador says boycott is attack on employees MORE (D-Wash.), Jim MoranJames (Jim) Patrick MoranThe Hill's Top Lobbyists 2020 Lawmakers toast Greta Van Susteren's new show Star-studded cast to perform play based on Mueller report MORE (D-Va.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and Ann Wagner (R-Mo.).
Several D.C. media figures were featured, including The Hill Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack and Jonathan Allen, the chief political correspondent of Vox.
The event, whose media sponsors include The Hill, raised over half a million dollars for the first time in its more than 15-year run.
“I thought it was a great experience,” said Hahn, who enjoyed playing a women’s labor representative. “I’m going to put it on my resume for my next job.”