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Shakespeare gets a congressional hearing in this year’s ‘Will on the Hill’

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A fictional congressional hearing during the coronavirus pandemic got a Shakespearean twist as part of this year’s annual “Will on the Hill” benefit.

Prominent actors, lawmakers, diplomats and media personalities came together Monday for the 19th annual — and second virtual — fundraiser for the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington. The Hill was a media sponsor for the event.

“Will on the Hill and Far Away,” written by Nat Cassidy and directed by Samantha Wyer Bello, centered around a Zoom malfunction that zapped William Shakespeare into a House hearing and members of Congress “far away” to the settings of his most famous plays — the ultimate technical difficulty. 

The play opened in a Zoom congressional hearing with the topic “What’s The Deal with That Guy” to get a “definitive answer” on whether or not Shakespeare was really a great playwright. Shakespeare, played by actor Patrick Page, was brought to the hearing with the help of a mad scientist, played by Yonatan Gebeyehu. The mad scientist’s teleportation machine malfunctioned leaving Shakespeare at the hearing while sending lawmakers to Zoom breakout rooms representative of Shakespeare’s different plays.

Throughout the play, legislators learned that the key to returning home is to “log out,” because “real life doesn’t begin and end on these screens.” 

The play poked fun at some of the most popular themes in politics and popular culture, including Twitter arguments — “You know I don’t have time to look at Twitter, unless someone in the other party said something bad in which case I am very familiar and very outraged”; government conspiracy theories — “How do we know that Shakespeare was real?”; and contrasts between first-term and veteran lawmakers — “Ever since you decided to run for office on your own, I think you feel like you know more than me.”

The play featured a bipartisan cast: Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.); Reps. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), Don Beyer (D-Va.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Van Taylor (R-Texas), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.); Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R); and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D).

Tags Alan Lowenthal Carolyn Maloney Chellie Pingree Chris Coons David Schweikert Dean Phillips Debbie Dingell Debbie Wasserman Schultz Dina Titus Doris Matsui Eleanor Holmes Norton Gerry Connolly Kelly Armstrong Peter Welch Roger Wicker Suzanne Bonamici Ted Deutch Van Taylor
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