The Book of Will – Lauren Gunderson

Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 70

So why is it that Shakespeare thrives 400 years after his death in a way that not one of his contemporaries can match? It’s not necessarily that Shakespeare was a better writer. Shakespeare is what he is, thanks in no small part to the devotion and persistence of two members of Shakespeare’s acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell. Seven years after Shakespeare’s death, they decided to seek out and publish his plays into what, today we call The First Folio. 
 
We can’t know what their true motivations were, but playwright Lauren Gunderson has decided that we’re certainly allowed to guess. She’s written a new play called The Book of Will that brings Heminges and Condell to vivid life, along with their families and everyone involved in gathering and creating the First Folio. Lauren Gunderson is interviewed by Neva Grant. 
 
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From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series. Published April 4, 2017. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This episode, “You That Survive, And You That Sleep In Fame,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster and Esther Ferington. We had help from Melissa Marquis at NPR in Washington and Monty Carlos at station KQED in San Francisco. 

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Transcript

MICHAEL WITMORE: Here are some dispatches from another universe: “We’re headed up to Ashland this summer for the Oregon Beaumont Festival.” Or how about this? “The Public Theater presents Wit Without Money, the centerpiece of this summer’s Fletcher in the Park.” Or how about, “Coming this fall, A Soldier for the Ladies, a production of the Royal Centlivre Company.” It’s safe to say in the world where we all live, you’ve never heard anyone say any of those things. Ever wonder why?
 
From the Folger Shakespeare Library, this is Shakespeare Unlimited. I’m Michael Witmore, the Folger’s director. This podcast is called “You that Survive, and You that Sleep in Fame.”
 
So why is it that Shakespeare thrives 400 years after his death in a way that not one of his contemporaries can match? Why isn’t there such a thing as the Folger Chapman Library or the Folger Marlowe Library? Partly it’s because of Shakespeare’s talent: he was a wonderfully gifted writer. But that’s not the only reason. Shakespeare is what he is thanks in no small part to the devotion and persistence of two men, two King’s Men, members of Shakespeare’s acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell. Seven years after the death of their friend, Will Shakespeare, they decided to seek out and publish his plays into what today we call the First Folio. We can’t know what their true motivations were. But playwright Lauren Gunderson has decided that we’re certainly allowed to guess. She’s written a new play called The Book of Will that brings Heming and Condell to vivid life along with their families and everyone involved in gathering and creating the First Folio. As we’re recording this, The Book of Will is premiering at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and Lauren stopped in recently to talk about her inspiration. She’s interviewed by Neva Grant.
 
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NEVA GRANT: The story of how the First Folio got published is a really interesting one, right? But how did you know, and when did you know, that it would make a good play?
 
LAUREN GUNDERSON: That is a fabulous question because great research doesn’t always translate into a great play. And what occurred to me was this gobsmacking moment of realization that half the plays would have been gone had the Folio not collected them and published them. And some of them happened to be some of my favorite plays. And that to me felt full of stakes, which of course a good play needs. And then you look at the characters that are populating this world of 1619 to 1623 which is when my play is set. And of course you have John Heminges and Henry Condell and you have Richard Burbage and Ben Johnson. And I posit that the women that accompanied these men, their wives, and daughters, and friends, were just as interesting as they were. So then now we have twice as many fabulous and interesting people. So that starts to make a good play. And then the real heart of it was when I realized that this can be one big metaphor for loss and legacy. Doing something when we don’t actually know what will become of this venture, this effort. But if you believe in it and you believe not just in the effort itself but they believed in the power of story and poetry. And of course their work has journeyed across centuries to us right now, which I think would delight and surprise them. But also part of them probably would’ve known: “Yeah, these plays were that good and we did a good thing in doing it.” So all of that made for the ingredients for I think a really captivating beginning to a story.  
 
GRANT: I know you’re a practiced playwright and it is your job in essence to take that kind of a story and put it on a page and then make it live for an audience. But as you’re talking, I’m wondering if any part of you felt daunted as you started going into this like, “Oh, you know, it’s almost bigger than I thought it was gonna be. How am I gonna make it into a play?”
 
GUNDERSON: Oh, absolutely. I mean the history of that time is complex and exciting and scary and dirty and wonderful, all of these many things. The first step is trying to locate it in a very human setting, a place that can both be big enough to encapsulate all the drama I want to tell but also intimate enough to make it so that real people can live and breathe in that space. So we centered the play in a bar that was John Heminges’s tap house which is connected to the Globe Theater. So it’s a place that these guys know really well. It’s a place that they’re comfortable drinking and arguing and dreaming. 
 
GRANT: Before we get much further, you know, this is a story we’ve told a lot on this podcast, the making of the First Folio. But for newcomers, for people who perhaps aren’t familiar, let’s just kind of go through it really quickly, what we do know, what’s sort of written down in history, John Heminges and Henry Condell, two colleagues of Shakespeare. It’s set after Shakespeare dies. And they take on this very ambitious task to codify for the first time as much of his work as they can.
 
GUNDERSON: And of course we know what that work turns into—one of the most iconic books in all of Western literature—but they didn’t. And I think that’s part of what I loved in telling this story, too, is we have such reverence for Shakespeare as we should. But to them, he was their best friend. He was of course a great talent and a great voice of that era but he was also Will, the guy that they saw flirt with the wrong people and get too drunk and, you know, mess up his lines, because of course he was human. And that’s really when I realized that this story can be not just for the Shakespeare nerds among us or the historians, but for everybody. Because I think Shakespeare doesn’t need that much help in being revered. He needs help in being human. That’s the real heart of this story. And frankly what’s playable, because in this world, it can’t be a history lesson and it can’t be a literature class. It really has to be the emotional reason that these people did this almost impossible thing. It comes down to their loves and their friendships that really provide the engine for this effort.
 
GRANT: We have some clips from the play which we are going to be sprinkling in as we talk. And this seems like a great opportunity to bring in the first one which is this is John Heminges and Henry Condell and they, it’s fairly early on in the play, where they’re suddenly realizing that they are perhaps the best people to gather these works together, Shakespeare’s works together and publish them into a book. 
 
GUNDERSON: So in this scene, it’s early in the play. And John and Henry and John’s daughter, Alice, are in the pub late at night, after probably a few too many beers, and they’re nostalgically reminiscing about Will and the wonderful work that he gave them as players to do. And it occurs to Henry that we should just gather them, to gather the plays to keep them safe. And of course that idea kind of snowballs into what will become a proposal to actually publish them. 
 
[RECORDING from The Book of Will]
 
HENRY: Those words are our lives’ work, Will’s life, Burbage’s life. If we don’t find them, they die with us.
JOHN: We’ll find the plays, Henry. 
HENRY: What if we gather, collect them all? Not in a drawer somewhere, but in a book. 
ALICE: Book?
HENRY: Of Will’s plays. Something simple just so we have it, so that we know they’re safe. Have Crane pen them on fine paper, bind them. A collection of Will’s plays, for us.
JOHN: It would be nice to see them all again, wouldn’t it? 
HENRY: I don’t think Will would mind. 
ALICE: I think he’d love it.
JOHN: Aye, he would.
HENRY: But. If we’re going to collect them all in a book anyway, we could just… publish them.
JOHN: Now we’re publishers?
ALICE: Publish all the plays?
JOHN laughs.
HENRY: Yes, yes, and not in some cheap quarto, like those pirated versions, our version, the real plays of William Shakespeare set down as they were done by us.
 
GRANT: What they were doing wasn’t really common practice at the time. I mean people might have published a single play here or there. They would’ve published plays as they came out but they didn’t publish the accumulated work of one playwright. That wasn’t typical. What they were doing was ambitious not only in sort of its size and scope but also the fact that they were even undertaking to publish the pays in the first place.
 
GUNDERSON: Exactly and I think that’s what was so fun about this process in sharing this story with an audience is that there’s a lot of assumptions. Many people would assume Shakespeare published his own plays or had a hand in them and that’s not true. Many people would assume that plays were like they are today, a form of literature. And they were much more a form of pop culture like television as opposed to, you know, grand texts. And so all of these many senses of how hard publishing was that they didn’t have half of the plays. Well, why didn’t they? Didn’t Shakespeare write for them? Where are the scripts? All of these myths kind of come crashing down into this world and you do realize that it wasn’t just a lovely thing that these people did but a nearly impossible thing that they managed to do to preserve this incredible work.
 
GRANT: And pretty much everything we’ve been talking about by the way is historical fact. I mean there were these two men who came together to do this. In fact one of them even had a daughter named Alice. You wrote her into the play. But that is really the scaffolding on which you hang a work of fiction which of course you have every right to do. You’re the playwright. You get to do that. So how did you walk that line? How did you then begin to build fictional conversations and personalities and happenings into this basic history?
 
GUNDERSON: Yeah, I mean all of the fiction has some root in a piece, a snippet of history that I came across and so it would kind of blossom as I realized the elements that I needed to tell a story that had good conflict um, and you know, converging personalities and some stakes and cathartic change by the end. But all of it comes back to history. So a lot of the women characters, you might assume that this play is full of white men. But I specifically...
 
GRANT: And it is, yeah.
 
GUNDERSON: There are a few but I really wanted to make sure that this play has enough women in the way that Shakespeare’s plays themselves are populated with really interesting, compelling, ambitious, powerful, funny women. And I thought well, of course the world of this pay deserves that same treatment.
 
[RECORDING from The Book of Will]
 
ELIZABETH: Henry’s been in a fog since we heard. Good friends mean bad days when the time comes.
REBECCA: How is he gone? How could he be? He had more life in him than twenty men. 
ALICE: I keep thinking he’ll just walk back into the tap house, surprise us all. 
ELIZABETH: I think that’d be a plot twist he’d like. 
REBECCA: A life with actors and I still fool myself that it’s all entrances and no exits. 
ALICE: Well, you can’t have the comedies without the tragedies.
REBECCA: Yes, but I find I need the comedies the older I get. 
ALICE: You’ve always loved the comedies, mum.
 
GUNDERSON: So finding little snippets of history, in, I believe it’s Condell’s will that he acknowledges his wife as the executor of his will and that was pretty rare back then to give a woman that kind of power. So I thought well, he must’ve really respected her. He must have trusted her business sense. He must have really loved her. And so that extrapolation turned into the character of Elizabeth who is this wonderful fireball of a wife that matches Henry’s enthusiasm. Rebecca is John’s wife and Alice is his daughter and these are two women who really balance and complete this man. And so you know, when I try to imagine who are John and Henry to each other, because they’re such a duo, they’re such a pair, but they can’t be the same personality. So I wanted to take what I knew about John which is he turned into kind of the manager of the King’s Men and really stopped acting as far as, you know, again, some of the snippets of history we have suggests that but he used to act. So that turned into a whole arc for him of having been a player and now is a manager. And there’s some regret to that, in him. But he still has a sense of rationality and reason to him that really makes him the counterbalance to who I created Henry to be which is again full of enthusiasm, vibrancy. He’s a great actor. He plays all the kind of Benvolio, Horatio roles. He’s like the best friend of the lead kind of people. And his kind of wild heart is again balanced to John’s reason. And it’s that push and pull between them that drives the whole play really.
 
GRANT: When you were doing research on these people, did you find yourself wishing you knew more about them from the history books or were you actually kind of pleased that you didn’t know a whole lot. I mean I know some has been written about them but I mean from your point of view, is it just more fun to sort of color in what we don’t know?
 
GUNDERSON: Oh, that’s such a great question. And I am exactly in the middle between wanting to know more and exactly happy with how much we do know. Even with what we do know, there are some elements of the historical record that I had to ignore or fudge a little bit to make sure that the play was its strongest self. So there’s a sense that John is what it was called a grocer which at in our mind means one thing and back then meant more of an administrative role with the importing and exporting of goods. And that didn’t quite fit in this world. So that detail, even though I was grateful for anything that I could find, I had to say, “Thank you so much. I will forget that [LAUGHS].”
 
GRANT: We haven’t talked about some of the other key characters in the play yet and they’re so many. I mean there’re the publishers of the First Folio, William Jaggard, his son, Isaac, again based entirely on real people of the same names. There is Ben Johnson who was of course William Shakespeare’s friend, his rival, and then there is the great actor Richard Burbage who lived during that time. 
 
GUNDERSON: It is such a dream, these guys, to write for them. I mean it really—there are incredibly huge personalities that it would take a writer as good as Shakespeare to invent. But I didn’t have to invent them. I just had to borrow them and especially the entire element of William Jaggard, the publisher; the only proof that we have of Shakespeare disliking anyone, is disliking this man, who is a publisher of playbills and other poetry and a lot of forgeries, including a lot of forgeries of William Shakespeare’s work himself. And the fact that...
 
GRANT: He was kind of a shady guy. 
 
GUNDERSON: He was totally shady. He’s just a perfect villain like even Disney villain. And when he walks in, I mean he’s blind from syphilis. And he’s old and he’s got all of this shady business, history, and of course again Shakespeare is the only one who could’ve written this in such perfection as history presented itself to me is he’s the one that these two good-hearted men needed. It’s the worst guy in England is who they needed to accomplish this task.
 
[RECORDING from The Book of Will]
 
WILLIAM: If you’re about to do this, you cannot do it without me.
HENRY: We can and we will. We don’t need your filthy business. 
WILLIAM: What about all the plays to which you have no rights?
ALICE: You said poets don’t have rights.
WILLIAM: Well, printers do and lawyers and investors and those are the ones you really don’t want to [expletive deleted] with.
JOHN: We’ll get the rights from honest men who want a first and only authorized version of Shakespeare as in the actual author.
WILLIAM: And how much of that work will there be without your friend’s Hamlet? Dear old Smethwick owns that, and Romeo and Juliet. Gave me the rights to both. What about Much Ado? That’s Aspley’s title, already on board. The Richards, the Henrys, crowds favorite all and all mine. And who would buy your collection without them? I wouldn’t.
ISAAC: Father, please. 
WILLIAM: Let me be frank. I know you don’t have the funds to do this. I do. I know you don’t have the means to print. I do. You don’t have the rights to all the plays, but I have already brought together a syndicate of owners who will invest in this folio’s production. Suddenly, you have money, rights, texts, presses, and nothing in your way but an old blind man asking to be friends. So, is there a deal to be made, gentlemen? 
 
GUNDERSON: And it makes it even more of a risk that they’re taking because of this guy’s shady business practices to work with him with this precious material. What if he absconds with it? What if he claims the rights and steals all of the plays? What if he does it poorly? But it’s their only chance, and that’s actually how we end the act with them agreeing to this choice and hoping that they made the right one.
 
GRANT: This may be a good moment to ask you just about the challenge again of writing a play about a process. I mean you’re not even necessarily writing a play about playwright-ing or about the act of creating unless you count the fact that they’re creating a book that never existed before. It’s a little tricky, and yet you were able to build all of these sort of you know, these reversals, these turning points, and these big moments into the play.
 
GUNDERSON: Thank you. Well, so much of that is true. There was moment after moment where the printing had to be stopped, there wasn’t enough money, so borrowing some of that—but again it can’t be, the question of the play can’t be will they publish the First Folio because we all know that they do. So that isn’t the stakes of the play. The stakes are both heart and what we as future consumers of this beautiful work know: we know what’s at stake because we know what these plays mean to us and have meant for the past several centuries. But again a play, which of course Shakespeare’s work does this over and over when he borrows from history, it can’t be about what actually happened. It has to be about the heart and the soul of the people in the middle of what is happening, and their own personal intimate losses and challenges and triumphs. And so that’s really where I had to dig in deepest and pull in myself and my past. And frankly some of the history of the actors I was working with in the development of the play: asking them what is it like to stand on the stage and say these words? What is it like to be an actor? What is it like to be an actor, and be the last one of your friends that—perhaps you started a theater company like Shakespeare, John, and Henry did and then you end up decades later and you’re the only ones left? What are the memories of those early plays to you? 
 
GRANT: How did their answers inform what you wrote?
 
GUNDERSON: Well, there’s a scene in act two where John and Henry, it’s a kind of reminiscence, but from a place of sorrow, searching for meaning. And the question is, what’s the point of doing these plays, of doing theater, of dressing up in costumes and being fake people? And Henry gets to say, “because it’s not actually fake.” It’s fiction but it’s not fake. And the feelings are real and isn’t it magic that we get to say them and invoke them every time we go on stage. We give an entire emotional journey to the audience and they come with us. They lean into it. And isn’t that the point of all of this? You know, you don’t get to keep a performance and you don’t get to keep a life, and in some way those conversations with the actors that I was working with reminded me that that’s the constant conversation that all actors throughout time have had. You actually don’t get to keep your work. But that has frankly prepared me, as the woman I am, with loss that I’ve met as I’ve gotten older and older. I’ve unintentionally trained myself in the temporality of things. And it doesn’t lessen their meaning and the memory of them and the power of them. But it does mean that we have to be prepared to lose and learn and keep going.
 
GRANT: You know, what you’re just saying makes me think about the character Ralph Crane, who’s Shakespeare’s scribner, his scribe, the guy who writes down all the lines. And he was based on a real guy.
 
GUNDERSON: Yes.
 
GRANT: And there’s a lovely moment in the play where we learn that he secretly was holding on to the manuscripts, it’s kind of an act of preservation and an act of love.
 
GUNDERSON: Yes, yeah, that is one where I had to read into the history slash make it up a little bit [LAUGHS]. But the idea that Crane was the person who Shakespeare would give his manuscripts to and he would cleanly write them so that all the actors would have their individual parts and there would be a prompt book for what amounts to the stage manager and he would be the one who would take the actual paper that Shakespeare wrote on and disseminated into the cast so that the work could be done. And I wondered, who was that guy? And if Shakespeare is who we think he is, and I imagine he’s you know, a combination of just the best guy you ever met and a little bit of a tortured artist and a little bit of a romantic and all of that, but I feel like he would be good to Ralph Crane. So part of the emotional reason for that character and plot element is that Shakespeare was the only guy in the King’s Men who actually talked to Ralph Crane instead of demanding that he, you know, accomplished tasks as quickly as possible for them. Shakespeare said, “How’s your day?” you know. And so Ralph Crane loved him for it and not only loved him—
 
GRANT: We actually know this or this is you imagined it?
 
GUNDERSON: Completely invented [LAUGHS]. 
 
GRANT: Yeah, okay, just want to make sure.
 
GUNDERSON: But the idea of the people who touched his work and knew him as a person, in this version, Shakespeare is a great guy. And you know, he’s not the prince of all men but he is somebody who these people would be loyal to and would follow in all of his crazy ideas of well, let’s write this next wild play that nobody as imagined before. And I imagined that inspiring that kind of devotion would have led Crane to perhaps make extra copies of his favorite plays for himself and that could be one of the reasons that we have some of the plays that we didn’t have, that weren’t published in quarto at the time that they could have added to the Folio.
 
GRANT: You know, I just wanna mention that there is a lot of humor in this play. I mean not that I’ve seen it, but just on the page, there’s a lot of funny moments in it. And one of the really funny moments comes and we can hear a bit of this scene is when Ralph Crane, Shakespeare’s scribe at one point, is going back and forth with one of the publishers of the First Folio, Isaac Jaggard. And they get into this really funny dialogue about a play that William Shakespeare may or may not have written called Love’s Labor’s Won.
 
[RECORDING from The Book of Will]
 
ISAAC JAGGARD: What about Love’s Labor's Won
CRANE: Oh, it’s lost.
JAGGARD: I know, but we have Love’s Labor's Lost. But where’s Love’s Labor's Won?
CRANE: No, I’m saying it’s lost. 
JAGGARD: I know, but he also wrote Won.
CRANE: No, it’s lost. 
JAGGARD: They are two plays, man!
CRANE: And one of them is gone, we can’t find it. Won is lost. All we have is Lost because we lost Won. All right?
JAGGARD: All right!
CRANE: All right!
 
GRANT: What I love about this is that this thing is so reminiscent of that classic Abbott and Costello routine “Who’s on First?” And you must have had just so much fun writing this and imagining.
 
GUNDERSON: It was the best. I do remember bolting up in the middle of the night with that idea and running to some paper to write that one down. I’m pretty proud of that moment.
 
GRANT: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. And there are a lot of moments like that. I mean you give Richard Burbage, you know, the great Shakespearean actor who I sort of imagine as a kind of Falstaff. You give him a lot of funny lines as well. 
 
GUNDERSON: And similarly I think that’s what Shakespeare does. I as a kid, that’s who I read. And so much or learning the dramatic form came from, as a lot of playwrights do, came from Shakespeare. And he is never one to have a play without a clown or to have some turn of phrase that may not be laugh out loud funny, but makes you think, makes you giggle, makes you think, “Oh, isn’t that clever?” and trying to fill a play that even would be classified as a drama with that levity ‘cause that’s life, right? That’s the human experience.
 
GRANT: There’s a very poignant end to your play when Heminges and Condell take the finished folio to Shakespeare’s widow.
 
[RECORDING from The Book of Will]
 
ANNE SHAKESPEARE: What brings you here, good sirs?
CONDELL: We wanted you to see, to be the first to see his work.
ANNE SHAKESPEARE: Whose work? 
HEMINGES: Will’s. We gathered his plays and printed them. 
ANNE SHAKESPEARE: Printed? All of them?
HEMINGES: Yes. 
CONDELL: Well, 
HEMINGES: Henry—
CONDELL: I hope you didn’t like Pericles.
HEMINGES: We’ll put it in a later printing, all right? Your husband’s words meant the world to us and we wanted you to be the first to see them. 
CONDELL: To see that the life you let him live was lived a thousand times over…
ANNE SHAKESPEARE: That’s it there? 
CONDELL: Yes, milady.
 
GUNDERSON: You know, from the very beginning, that’s how I knew how I wanted to end the play. Partly because there’s so much strange academic animosity to Anne Hathaway, in some way: thinking that she’s got in Will’s way or tricked him into marriage or all of his business. And I just wanted to meet a strong woman at the end who, if we love Shakespeare, we should think that he would be able to choose a woman of merit. And to meet her at the end, and to have them give her the book so she can see what all this amounted to… and I double checked the history and it is in fact possible that she would have seen an early version.
 
GRANT: Do we know that she knew it was being codified?
 
GUNDERSON: I don’t think we have any proof of that that I know of. But we know that Stratford wasn’t that far away and that they had been there before. So in my version it’s a moment of them realizing that Will was a husband. And the wife deserves some credit to the husband’s success. The other element of this is let’s presume that Anne never saw a play that he wrote. And here she is with these two great actors and she just asks quite simply, “Start reading them to me. They’re plays. I’m surrounded by actors. Why don’t you read them?” And that simple moment of saying, “Oh, right, that’s the whole point of this is to lift these words off of the page that we worked so hard to put them on,” and share them with the world and breathe into them and be in them in the way that great actors lift that word into the air and into our hearts. 
 
GRANT: Right and there’s that point earlier in the play where John Heminges addresses that very thing and he talks about our need for story and our need to keep returning, to even hear the same stories over and over again. I mean, we’re almost wired to want to do that. And I guess really what the play is all about is not just our need for stories but our need to make sure they’re preserved.
 
GUNDERSON: Absolutely. That’s exactly it. I think it’s a core, fundamental driver for human beings all over the world. And it is in some ways curious that we come to fiction, instead of fact, over and over again. Fiction gives us something so specific. And part of it is I think a sense of coherence in the chaos of normal life; an end-point of a story, which means a point of meaning, which life doesn’t really end in the way that a play ends. And that allows us to pause and reflect and gather what we’ve learned. But specifically for theater, it asks us to gather together. And there’s a few moments in the play where they have been met with sorrows. And so they are met with that need to go to somewhere when you’re hit with that kind of pain. What do you do? What do I need? Where do I go? And they go to the theater, this empty stage, the Globe Theater at night. Why are they there? What do they hope to get? And in that moment, it reminds me that theater is church to a lot of people—and it certainly is to me. I feel complete and I’m able to question, I’m able to feel the kind of depth and height of the human experience in the theater, and to find comfort and relief, find a common experience with characters who are going through something that I’m going through or articulating something I can’t quite articulate. You know, so it’s more than entertainment. It always has been. It is an engine to our humanity as something we come to again and again. And I like the idea that when we see John and Henry on that empty stage at the Globe in Act II, they actually look out at this modern audience, hundreds and hundreds of years later, and there’s a moment where, I hope, the audience feels that they are in that world with John and Henry and all of those characters in the 1600s—that theater does this magical time traveling thing that it does sometimes. And in that scene, in that moment, we are in their time sitting in the audience. And they are somehow in ours at the exact same moment. And that I think is what we come to story for, is this commonality of… that human beings are always human beings no matter when they are, no matter where they are. And this play tries to articulate that and offer that shared experience to audiences then and now.
 
GRANT: Lauren, thanks so much for this conversation. I’ve really enjoyed it.
 
GUNDERSON: This was such fun and such an honor. Thank you.
 
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MICHAEL WITMORE: Playwright Lauren Gunderson is the author of the new play The Book of Will, which had its world premiere on January 13, 2017, at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. She was interviewed by Neva Grant. “You That Survive, and You That Sleep in Fame” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster and Esther Farrington. We had help from Hope Grandin at Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Melissa Marquis at NPR in Washington, and Monte Carlo’s Amanda Font and Katie McMurran at Station KQED in San Francisco. Shakespeare Unlimited comes to you from the Folger Shakespeare Library. Home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger is dedicated to advancing knowledge in the arts. You can find more about the Folger at our website, Folger.edu. For the Folger Shakespeare Library, I’m Folger Director Michael Witmore.