Copyright 2013 Dark Lady Players

alternative  shakespeare  cabaret:

Was  Shakespeare  Jewish?

at the cornelia street cafe

Elizabethan Theaters
Topless Elizabethan Dress
Shoreditch Theatres opposite Amelia's Home
Elizabethan Sex Shop (dildos!)
Farthingale and Hose
Royal Procession of Queen Elizabeth
Sommerset House
Elizabeth I by Issac Oliver
Bankside Detail of the Globe
England 1580, Bear Gardens
Bear and Bull Baiting Rings, Bankside, London 1560
Topless Elizabethan Dress
Topless Elizabethan Dress
Recorder Players 1535
Shoreditch Theatres Opposite Amelia's Home

(click for full-size slide show)

midsummer  madness

a  reading  of  a  new  play  by  john  hudson  &  bella  poynton

at  the  central  park  bandshell

i  don't  believe  in  shakespeare

part  devised  movement  theatre /  part  flashmob

with  a  new  short  play  by  john  hudson

at  figment  festival  on  governors  island

Elizabeth Weitzen, Mimi Hirt, and Alexandra Cohen Spiegler in a scene from Romeo and Juliet parodying the annunciation of the Virgin Mary.

Directed by Jenny Greeman

Costumes by Elizabeth Weitzen

Props by Larisa Tracy


Performances by:

Alexandra Cohen Spiegler

Mimi Hirt

Issac Scranton

Elizabeth Weitzen


The start of our recurring lecture  cabaret series at Cornelia

Street Cafe! Introductions and context from Artistic Director

John Hudson and  Director Jenny Greeman, followed by

performances from original pieces by John Hudson &

Bella Poynton, readings from The Poetry of The Dark Lady,

and selections from the plays


The exciting, absurd, post-Patriot Act story of three precocious, reclusive teenagers at a very particular kind of private institution - one for the maladjusted. In other words, instead of sending juvenile offenders to jail, they are sent to theatre program for rehabilitation. Performing Shakespeare is their sentence. With the help, however, of their teacher - a rogue authorship theorist - the young delinquent geniuses discover the true author of "Shakespeare's" plays, while extreme danger - from M.I.16, the secret government organization with the sole job of keeping the lie of "The Bard" alive - lurks nearby. 

(click for full-size slideshow)

Scenes from our interactive performance at The Figment Festival included Alexandra Cohen Spiegler as a carnival barker, Mimi Hirt as The Dark Lady, Pëtra Denison as an "everyman," and Elizabeth Weitzen as Titus Caesar.

annunciation  parodies


scenes  from:

twelfth   night

romeo   and   juliet




on   annunciation    day

at   the    center at   westpark

Directed by Jenny Greeman

Costumes by Elizabeth Weitzen

Props by Larisa Tracy


The Marys -

Olivia, Juliet, Desdemona, and Ophelia -

are played by Mimi Hirt,

the Angels by Elizabeth Weitzen,

and the clowns

by Alexandra Cohen Spiegler.

shakespeare's   gospel   parodies

a  medieval  mystery  tour

at  center at westpark

Directed by Jenny Greeman

Costumes by Elizabeth Weitzen


"As an evening of theater, it is gorgeous."


Dark Lady Players © 2014 All Rights Reserved; Site Design by Elizabeth Weitzen

"TimeOut NY

Photo of the Week"

Petra Salander, Mimi Hirt, and Alexandra Cohen Spiegler

in one of nine "exhibits" from the museum-style tour,

replete with docent guides (here Meaghan Cross), and staged as an immersive, site-specific experience inside of Westpark Church. Here, a parody of the Annunciation of the Virgin

 Mary hidden within the nurse's scene from Romeo & Juliet.

Yet none of the plays ends in Paradise. Why do the Marys (Juliet, Ophelia, Desdemona) die before giving birth to the savior? Why are the Messiah figures (Laertes, Shylock, Bottom/Pyramus) defeated? Why is the playwright PARODYING the stories of The Gospels? Like Marlowe, Shakespeare regards the Gospels as a Roman literary creation --- a view that is being rediscovered by modern New Testament scholars.

We took nine Shakespeare scenes - each one parodying a different episode in the Gospels - and places these tableaus (each an exhibit in our tour) in a different part of an amazing 1890s church. As with any museum exhibition, our audience was free to investigate each piece as they chose, in any order or watching the same one multiple times. Among the parodies were the Three Magi (from "Titus Andronicus"), the Trials of Jesus (from "Merchant of Venice"), and the Crucifixion (the death of Bottom/Pyramus from "A Midsummer Night’s Dream"). There were docents to guide visitors through the exhibits and a video companion tour available for mobile devices.

Shakespeare’s plays contain:


14 resurrections

12 Apocalypses

5 Virgin Mary allegories

at least 40 Christ figures

3,000 other religious references


They were written using

14 different translations of the Bible!

The Three Magi
The Last Supper
The Annunciation of Juliet
Holding baby Jesus
Trial of Shylock/Jesus
Twelfth Night
Mary and an Angel
Docent David Reck
Titus Andronicus/Three Magi
Docent Shykia explains Titus Andronicus
Twelfth Night
Trial of Shylock/Jesus
Merchant of Venice
Roman robes
Hamlet explained by Docent Dave
Pregnant Virgin Ophelia

(click for full-size slideshow)

as   you   like   it:   The    big   flush

in  the  midtown  international  theater  festival

at   where   eagles   dare   theatre   space


The play absolutely holds coherent allegories. It tells the story of the Roman-Jewish war and Biblical Jewish history, from Eden to the Flood. The play also turns out to be a Jewish toilet joke written using double allegories - with Jaques/Jakes (Elizabethan for toilet), and the character whose pocket watch identifies him as Sir John Harrington, the inventor of the flush toilet (which pre-dates the play by a couple years)!

What are these characters, a dunghill, and many references to excrement doing in this play? Why does As You Like It end with Jaques warning that Noah's flood is coming? Why are there other flood references, like Hercules cleansing the Augean stables of manure? Why does Touchstone go off to the ark with Audrey, who is named after St Ethelreda, the woman who was saved from a flood? Could this be the Last Day? And who is Touchstone (in Greek the Bassanos)?Could he be an allegory for Amelia Bassano herself? A hint: The clown William (who Touchstone wants to kill), turns out to be an allegory for William Shakespeare.


"The best piece of creative theater I have seen in many years"

-Philip Langer, Director, The Theatre Guild

"It is challenging to convey these ideas, but the Dark Lady Players production achieves this."

-Jewish Renaissance

Standard scholarship denied this play contained allegories, that the allegorical elements held meaning, and that a coherent story could be found in those allegories. In 2008, The DLP proved otherwise. Our radical techniques allowed us to put the pieces together. Oh! What we discovered:

a  midsummer  night's  dream

at  the  abingdon  theatere  arts  complex

and  the  Smithsonian  American  Art  Museum

in  Washington,  D.C. 

For more detail read John Hudson's briefing for the actors in the production, 

his thesis at the Shakespeare Institute, his article on Midsummer in the Birmingham Journal for Literature and Languageand his exciting exoneration of Ms. parker in The Clyde Fitch Report.

In this clip, Oberon reveals the true meaning of the "flower."


In the photo, Kirsta Peterson as Bottom, Monica Cortez as the Bee, and Megan McGrath and Amanda Bruton as soldiers.

Puck and the Faeries.

"a treasure trove..."

-New York Theatre Wire


"Something revolutionary..."

-New Jersey Jewish News


" a light going on..."

-The Villager

Directed by 

Mahayana Landowne


Assistant Directed

by Jenny Greeman


Performances by:

Amanda Bruton

Monica Cortez

Megan McGrath

Kirsta Peterson


Building on work by Stanford professor Patricia Parker, in 2007 the DLP showed that this play contains an underlying allegorical layer of meaning - including a parody of the crucifixion and references to the Roman-Jewish War - which completely transform the meaning of the play: 

Bottom = Pyramus = Jesus

Flute = Thisbe = the Church

Titania = Titus Caesar, destroyer of Jerusalem

Oberon = Yahweh (Jehovah), the Hebrew God

Puck = Robin = the Devil

The Wall = the partition between Earth and Heaven

 The Little Indian (Changeling) Boy  = the Jewish Messiah

The little boy’s Votress mother = the Virgin Mary

...and more!

shakespeare's   virgin   marys 

at   Manhattan   theatre   source

Directed by

Jenny Greeman


Performances by:

Alexandra Cohen-Spiegler

Mimi Hirt

Megan McGrath

Riah Werner

Anna Wood

"This work opens new and breathtaking performance avenues for professional companies and a multitude of possibilities for researchers”     -Professor Kelly Morgan, Chair, American College Theater Festival 

We continued our re-thinking

and re-inventing of Shakespeare’s

plays in 2009—with Othello, Romeo & Juliet,

and Hamlet . Once more, we identified

‘unthinkable’ innovative solutions that others

had missed. We took the academic research

that had shown these plays contain allegories

of the Virgin Mary, and demonstrated that they

are comic parodies, as described in ‘Shakespeare’s Virgin Mary Spoofs.’ worked out how to perform them—by over-turning traditional dramaturgy

and assumptions. The photograph illustrates how the nunnery and sewing scenes from Hamlet, together with the references to maggots in a dead dog, imply that Ophelia gets pregnant as the

Virgin Mary got pregnant by the Holy Ghost.

For more information read The Virgin Mary Parodies and Shakespeare’s Virgin Marys or watch slides of the show!

hamlet's apocalypse

at  manhattan theater source

Directed by 

Jenny Greeman


Performances by:


Alexandra Cohen-Spiegler

as Hamlet 

the Anti-Christ


Mimi Hirt

as Ophelia

the woman crowned with thesun/the Virgin Mary


Shykia Fields

as Claudius

the Beast

Petra Denison

as Gertrude

 the Whore of Babylon


Megan McGrath

as Polonius

God the Father 


Lindsay Tanner

as Laertes

the Resurrected Christ


Bella Poyton

as Horatio

Funded in part by the Ada G. and Stanley L. Halbreich Foundation and based on work by Shakespeare scholar Linda Hoff, this production shows that the play is not a tragedy but a black comedy which parodies Doomsday in the Book of Revelation. A background article on the Jewish religious allegories in Shakespeare’s plays can be found here.


Ophelia is a parody of both the Virgin Mary and the Woman Crowned with the Sun; Gertrude is a parody of the Whore of Babylon; Laertes is Christ; King Claudius a parody of the 7 headed Beast. Hamlet has multiple allegories including the Beast from the Sea, (the original Anti-Christ), Emperor Nero (the first human Anti-Christ) and Martin Luther (the second anti-Christ). But in this Apocalypse everything goes wrong, the Rule of God (that’s what Osric means) all goes wrong, and at the end instead of Jerusalem a city of gold, we get its comic equivalent from the Arabian Nights, a fort-in-brass.


Watch the slide presentationread the forthcoming tv interview on Hamlet’s Apocalypse.


DLP is made possible in part through the sponsorship of The Field, with funding provided by

ART New York Nancy Quinn Fund, the Halbreich Foundation, & individual donors.


In 2014, as part of a DLP festival weekend including film screenings, play readings, and


lectures, the DLP also fully staged an all women production of ‘Writing Othello,’ an


'Othello' adaptation that inserts the author - Amelia Bassano Lanieras a character.


Our script intersperses scenes fom Othello with scenes of the play's conception by its author,

an onstage Emilia Bassano Lanier, as well as the parallel moments from her life that inspired her writing.


We posit that her many layered work is a parody of the gospels and that Desdemona parallels


the Virgin Mary, while Othello in his jealousy parodies her jealous Joseph husband from the


mystery plays. We also explained the identity of the all


important handkerchief.



Our production at New Perspectives showed that the


figure of the maid Emilia is an allegory for author Amelia


Bassano herself, and furthermore that the she was


utterly feminist and well ahead of her time in the ideas


she conveyed. To learn more, read the article about it


in Howlround.

   W R I T I N G   O T H E L L O   

a N   A D A P T A T I O N   B Y   J O H N   H U D S O N   A N D   J E N N Y   G R E E M A N   

at  N E W   P E R S P E C T I V E S 

Directed by Jenny Greeman

Stage Manager Lauren Arneson

Costumes by Elizabeth Weitzen






















Performances by:

Emily Bentley

Alexandra Cohen Spiegler

Pëtra Denison

Shykia Fields

Mimi Hirt

Mikaela Lynn Johnson

Mary Sheridan

Elizabeth Weitzen


 T H E   D A R K  

 L A D Y  

 R I S E S  


A      F E S T I V A L  


  N E W  


In February 2014, DLP had a pilot event at Kávé - an immersive, multi-disciplinary, burlesque, salon, rave, party, theatre explosion. Featuring a cast and crew of more than twenty collaborators, sponsored by Absente Absinthe and Shag Shop in Brooklyn, and conceived and created by resident DLP designer Elizabeth Weitzen, the event was attended by more than 350 revelers. Keep a look out - this one will come back!

Dark Lady Players © 2019 All Rights Reserved; Site Design by Elizabeth Weitzen