Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Love and Romance, Shakespeare-style

We at the theater love love. And we love Shakespeare. And luckily, right now we are surrounded by both, as our next show is a gorgeous production of Shakespeare's comedy As You Like It. Love is so present in the play, it ends in (spoiler alert!) no fewer than four weddings - so many that the God of Marriage himself makes a special appearance.

Love for Shakespeare we've got amply covered. But Love in Shakespeare we thought we could use an outside expert for. And luckily, I happened to know of just the perfect one. And the thought of her coming to talk at the theater? What can I say, I love it.

Mary Bly is a professor of English Literature at Fordham University who specializes in early modern theater (with interests in things like boys' theater, queer theory, and puns), and her knowledge of Shakespeare is vast. But there's another reason that she's the perfect expert to call in if you want to learn about love: under her pen name, Eloisa James, she is the New York Times-bestselling author of over twenty romance novels.

Mary Bly/Eloisa James

I met Mary Bly when I was a reporter for the New York Times, covering a cocktail party thrown in conjunction with a romance novelist convention (yes, they exist!). I was supposed to talk to Dr. Bly for a quick interview, but she was so smart and fascinating that eventually I had to tear myself away to go talk to other people. She described the elements that she wove into her books (at that point, she had just written one that involved elements from T.S. Eliot's poem 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock' and the TV show 'House').  She talked about the challenges of writing stories whose endings always end happily. I left that conversation a total fan, and I knew that I would immediately have to read her books.

And if you haven't read any Eloisa James books, you have a great love affair in store. They are witty and smart, full of adventure and fun and romance and occasional heartbreak (but only for a little bit), populated by complex characters you miss when you finish reading. They are, in short, as delightful to read as Mary Bly is to listen to, and that is high praise.

But you don't need to take my word for it. On Sunday, February 9th (not long before Valentine's Day - see what we did there?), Mary Bly is going to come give a talk about love and Shakespeare after a performance of our 3:00 PM production of As You Like It (click this link to purchase tickets to the show - make sure to select the 3:00 PM performance on January 9th to attend the talk with Dr. Bly!) Whether you're a lover of Shakespeare, a lover of romance novels, or just a lover of love, I think you'll have a wonderful time.

Your new obsession.