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‘War of the sexes rages’ at DC’s annual ‘Will on the Hill’

Kevin Allen

“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.

{mosads}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 Coons (D-Del.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Reps. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Janice Hahn (D-Calif.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Jim Moran (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.”

Tags Chris Coons Gerry Connolly Jim McDermott Jim Moran Joyce Beatty Patrick Leahy Suzanne Bonamici

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