One of Washington's dramatic traditions continues Monday with Will on the Hill . Professional actors take the stage along with members of Congress and journalists in Elizabethan-era costumes, all poking fun at the strangeness of #ThisTown. And they do it with only one rehearsal.
“It shouldn’t work, but it does,” writer Peter Byrne said in a phone interview. “Everyone comes into this with such goodwill that it succeeds.”
“The best part of the show is that it’s all about Washington, all of the foibles. It’s a big inside joke that everyone is on the inside of,” said Director Alan Paul.
This year, the battle of the sexes hits the stage in the form of two interns fighting it out at the fictional lobbying firm Stratford, Avon and Bard, and are then joined by some of Shakespeare's heroes and heroines.
Joining the Hillites onstage are D.C. native Samira Wiley of "Orange is the New Black" and Edward Gero, fresh off his star turn as Justice Antonin Scalia “The Originalist.”
Byrne has a list of guidelines for writing Will on the Hill each year. It has to take place in Washington, involve Shakespeare, be funny and, most importantly, have bipartisan appeal.
On top of all that, he has to have an excuse in every show for the players to be in classic Shakespearian dress. This year, he went with a lobbying firm so powerful that the leader can mandate that employees must wear Elizabethan-era clothes.
Paul highlighted Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., as two of the standouts from previous years. Norton, he noted, “knows how to deliver a joke.”
The list of participating members includes Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del.; Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Reps. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va.; Susan A. Davis, D-Calif.; Jared Polis, D-Colo.; Dina Titus, D-Nev.; Ted Deutch, D-Fla.; Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore.; Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y.; Jim McDermott, D-Wash.; Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio; Janice Hahn, D-Calif.; Jim Himes, D-Conn.; Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif.; Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y.; Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.; Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio, and Ryan Zinke, R-Mont.
Hacks include Steve Clemons of The Atlantic, Bob Cusack of The Hill and NPR's Robert Siegel.
Last year the funds raised by Will on the Hill exceeded $450,000 for the Shakespeare Theatre Company's education and outreach programs.
Will on the Hill takes place at Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW, Monday with a VIP reception at 6:30 p.m.
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