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Shakepeare Theatre of NJ presents "The Book of Will" by Lauren Gunderson

originally published: 06/21/2024

Shakepeare Theatre of NJ presents "The Book of Will" by Lauren Gunderson

(MADISON, NJ) -- How far would you go to honor and preserve a friend's legacy? What if that friend was William Shakespeare and his plays were about to be lost to history forever? Lauren Gunderson's acclaimed play The Book of Will shines a light on the amazing true story of two ordinary men whose love for their friend and his genius continues to influence our world four centuries after Shakespeare's death. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will present The Book of Will at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre on the campus of Drew University from July 10-28, 2024.

The production will be directed by The Shakespeare Theatre’s venerable Artistic Director Emerita Bonnie J. Monte, who was at the helm of the company for 33 seasons before stepping down at the end of 2023. “The characters in the play were real, living, breathing people,” says Monte. “They were not only Shakespeare’s fellow company members, they were his best friends. This story of how those friends, with the help of Providence and a small group of fellow accomplices, managed to rescue Shakespeare’s plays from oblivion is not only an extraordinary tale, but a truly inspiring and moving one.”

“These men achieved something miraculous against all odds,” continued Monte. “It is a tale that rivals any epic saga that has ever recounted the feats of heroes. But these heroes were simple, ordinary folk who, thankfully and perspicaciously, recognized the priceless value of something so incredibly rare that they risked everything to save it for all of us.”

The Shakespeare Theatre has garnered high praise for its historically-inspired productions over the years, including last season’s A Man for All Seasons, and the lauded 2017 regional-premiere production of Shakespeare in Love directed by Monte.

“Bonnie is the perfect director for this play,” says Brian B. Crowe, the Theatre’s new Artistic Director. “It celebrates the importance of legacy and the power of great art to transform hearts, minds, and our very souls, something which is a hallmark of Bonnie’s work.” Monte has directed over 100 productions for The Shakespeare Theatre and was named one of “40 New Jerseyans We Love” by New Jersey Monthly and one of the 25 Most Influential People in the Arts in New Jersey by The Star-Ledger.

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The prestigious ensemble bringing this exciting story to life includes veteran company members Michael Stewart Allen (Waiting for Godot, Much Ado About Nothing, A Child’s Christmas in Wales) and Anthony Marble (Waiting for Godot, The Rose Tattoo, The Rainmaker) as Henry Condell and John Heminges, two members of Shakespeare’s acting troupe who, five years after Shakespeare’s death, took up the seemingly impossible mission to gather all his plays together into one collection. Other leading roles are brought to life by Pearce Bunting (The Grapes of Wrath) as Ben Jonson, Brent Harris (The Metromaniacs, Exit the King, The Alchemist) as Richard Burbage and William Jaggard, Isaac Hickox-Young (A Midwinter Night’s Dream, The Caretaker, The Rose Tattoo), Amy Hutchins (A Child’s Christmas in Wales),Victoria Mack (Tartuffe, The Guardsman, Pygmalion), Jack Steiner (A Child’s Christmas in Wales), Patrick Toon (The Winter’s Tale, The Misanthrope, The Royal Family), and Carolyne Leys (Much Ado About Nothing).

Shakepeare Theatre of NJ presents "The Book of Will" by Lauren Gunderson

The design team includes scenic design by Sarah Beth Hall; costume design by Hugh Hanson; lighting design by Matthew Adelson, and sound design by Ms. Monte. The production stage manager is Alison Cote. The Book of Will is sponsored in part by Lynne and John Rathgeber.

Single tickets for Book of Will begin at $39 for preview performances and begin at $55 for regular performances. Prices range from $39 to $75. The Theatre offers various cost-saving opportunities, including $15 student tickets with a valid student ID, and a limited number of Pay What You Will tickets for every performance on a first-come, first-serve basis. STNJ also has a $30 Under 30 ticket option, which offers $30 tickets for patrons aged 30 and under, with valid ID. Other discounts are available including subscription discounts; and a 10% discount for members of PBS/Thirteen, Active Military, Madison Loyalty Club card holders, and AAA members. STNJ also honors the Family First Discovery Pass for families receiving benefits through SNAP, WIC, or Work First New Jersey. For tickets, patrons can call the Box Office at 973-408-5600 or visit

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) is one of the leading Shakespeare theatres in the nation, serving approximately 75,000 adults and children annually. It is New Jersey's largest professional theatre company dedicated to Shakespeare's canon and other classic masterworks. Through its productions and education programs the company strives to illuminate the universal and lasting relevance of the classics for contemporary audiences.

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s programs are made possible, in part, by funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional major support is received from the F.M. Kirby Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Edward T. Cone Foundation, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, CTW Foundation, The Samuel H. Scripps Foundation, Union Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, Hyde, and Watson Foundation, Jack K. Ayre and Frank Ayre Lee Theatre Foundation, The John R. Eckel Jr. Foundation, Turrell Fund, The Merrill G. and Emita E. Hastings Foundation, and the Howard Gilman Foundation, as well as contributions from numerous other foundations, corporations, government agencies, and individuals.

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