American Players Theatre
5950 Golf Course Road
P.O. Box 819
Spring Green, WI 53588
Box Office: 608-588-2361
Some relationships are tricky, and The Bard sets out to remind us of that inconvenient truth via one of theater's most unconventional heroines, Helena. Fiercely determined to get what she wants (in this case, the almost equally enigmatic Bertram), Helena has quite the bag of tricks, entrapment not least among them. Since All's Well That Ends Well defies easy categorization, it is sometimes called a “problem play.” Needless to say, we take issue. True enough, the play deals in the complex currency of life and love. If that's problematic, so too then is it funny, beautiful, even outrageous. Or, as Shakespeare himself puts it, “The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.”
Inside this Cinderella story of a commoner's daughter on a great quest to win her handsome prince resides one of Shakespeares most shocking and timeless themes. At its heart All's Well is about how flawed we are as human beings and the necessity to accept and forgive ourselves this fact if any good is to be made out of our lives. In this story, as in life, the characters are on a great adventure. They make choices that hurt the ones they love; they make many messy – and some irrevocable – mistakes all in pursuit of a perceived heart's desire. In the final accounting they stand looking at one another perhaps a little wiser and take what good they can out of the circumstances they have created. Because really, what is our alternative? All's Well That Ends Well deals with life in all its truthful sticky contradictions.
I kept two quotes close at hand as I worked on the play. The first from the play itself:
The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and
ill together: our virtues would be proud, if our
faults whipped them not; and our crimes would
despair, if they were not cherished by our virtues.
The second, from an unknown author, I imagined young Helena and Bertram both had taped to the mirror in their bathroom:
“Life is not a journey to the grave with intentions of arriving safely in a pretty well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming ... WOW! What a ride!”
Thank you for taking the trip Up the Hill and through the woods to sit with us inside this story.