Match: Lit offers two queer takes on Shakespeare plays in rotating repertory.
February 18 - 27, 2022 at Westbeth Community Room & Gallery

Buy tickets HERE.

Independent theater company Match: Lit presents Shakespeare's HENRY V and TWELFTH NIGHT (pictured above) performed in rotating repertory at the Westbeth Community Room & Gallery beginning February 18th.

HENRY V, directed by Bobbie Lowe, kicks off the rotation with an incredibly intimate ensemble of only five actors. They tell the story of a typically scrappy team of underdogs going to war against their Goliath, but have chosen to highlight the gross overstep of religious institutions in national policy -— a take that often puts one of England’s most cherished leaders in an unkind light. “When I re-read HENRY V, I was so struck by the strong themes of extremist nationalism and religious institution overreach; and so we are using the text to explore the relationship between government and religion,” says Lowe, a Trans Femme/Non-Binary, classically trained actor and director from Texas now living in NYC. “And I remember so vigorously nodding when she brought this to my attention,” Match: Lit Founder and Artistic Director Kristin Sgarro adds, “and I assure you too, when you hear HENRY V aloud again, there are moments in this text that you just cannot ignore when you consider our current circumstances in this world.” Light, shadow, and reflection build the world both physically and symbolically, as Lowe puts her experimental chops in to practice with her ensemble.

TWELFTH NIGHT, then, was living right there on the page -— there was “no way” Sgarro wasn’t going to choose this play upon the company’s return. “We have all grieved in some way these last two years; some of us have also grown in the last two years: that’s what I’d always seen in TWELFTH NIGHT.” Sgarro, an actor and musician, plays Feste with their own original music featured in the production. Zeynep Akca, a queer, Turkish interdisciplinary teaching artist and director based in Brooklyn, is their director. Akca has previously worked with TADA! Youth Theatre, Acting Out! and Amas Musical Theatre, and currently works at Girl Be Heard. As a director, she has worked plays in the Broadway Bound Theatre Festival, The Tank’s Pride Fest, and at The Brick. She is the Artistic Director of No Exit Theatre Collective and a producer on SCOWL: Fight Theatre. She holds her Masters’ in Applied Theatre from CUNY SPS.

“TWELFTH NIGHT is often interpreted to have an ‘all-tied-up-in-a-nice-little-bow’ ending,” Akca notes. “But if these characters have changed in the course of the play, what if what they want also changes by the end? And what does ‘normalcy’ become for them? Can they just go ‘back to normal’?” And get ready: Illyria has been affectionately and jokingly named ‘Ill-queer-ia.’ “If you’re an audience member who will get impatient with gender identity and sexuality being normalized or explored, you’re probably going to have a terrible time here,” Sgarro, a nonbinary artist themselves, laughs. “It is so gay, and in the best way! The whole play gets exponentially more queer every time we read it and we are reveling in it.” Akca agrees: “It’s been a joy to explore themes around queerness and gender identity, as well as community and grief—and all of us can relate!” “We’ve just been through the ringer,” Sgarro adds, “and we’re all coping in different ways. The characters are too, and they sometimes misunderstand each other; it’s a very different, very deeply human conflict. To us, this isn’t a farce where we just laugh at an uptight guy who got tricked into wearing yellow stockings.”

What’s the same? “You’ll recognize some of the text, surely—but beyond that, these two pieces have taken on entirely new lives,” opines Kristin Sgarro. “And we’ve always had our twists, I suppose, but our irreverence is appropriately assuming the spotlight this season. We’re reclaiming it and making these plays into art that is completely and uniquely ours.”

HENRY V is directed by Bobbie Lowe starring Victoria M. Fragnito, Maya Jeyam*, Teagan Kazia, Jessica Dee Kelly*, and Kezia Tyson. The production team includes Leana Gardella (Intimacy Director), Rudi Utter (Technical Director), Emily Bubeck (Assistant Director), and Krystal K.C. Wilson (Stage Manager). Running time is 90 minutes, no intermission.

TWELFTH NIGHT is directed by Zeynep Akca starring Nazlah Black as Sir Toby Belch, Arin Edelstein as Antonio, Lauren E King as Sebastian, Robin Murray as Viola, Naima Randolph as Maria, Regina Renée Russell* as Olivia, Owen Grayson Schiller as Malvolio, Kristin Sgarro as Feste, Anna Stacy as Duke Orsino, and Rachel Weekley as Curio/Sir Andrew Aguecheek. The production team includes Kristin Sgarro (Composer), Lisa LaGrande (Intimacy Director), Rudi Utter (Text Coach and Technical Director), Brynne O’Rourke (Assistant Director) and Sydnee Davis (Stage Manager). Running time is 2 hours 15 minutes including one intermission.

* Actor appears courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association. Henry V and Twelfth Night are AEA-approved showcases.

Match: Lit was founded in 2015 and has in that time put six full productions on the map, five of them works by William Shakespeare. In 2018, they began their landmark BARDcore reading series—easily the event that puts them on the local monthly map, with 90-minute cuts of Shakespeare plays that get performed over bar trivia.To follow Match: Lit on social media and get sneak peeks of their past readings and other performances, you’ll find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/matchlit, and on both Instagram and Twitter at @matchlittheatre.

HENRY V and TWELFTH NIGHT are performed in rotation February 18 — 27 at Westbeth Community Room & Gallery (55 Bethune Street, New York, NY). Tickets $30 separately, but audiences can buy one and get the other for 50% off—just select the add-on option at checkout. Purchase now at www.matchlit.org.

Complete performance schedule:
• Friday, February 18th: Henry V at 7:00 PM
• Saturday, February 19th: Henry V at 2:00 PM
• Saturday, February 19th: Twelfth Night at 7:00 PM
• Sunday, February 20th: Twelfth Night at 2:00 PM
• Sunday, February 20th: Henry V at 7:00 PM
• Monday, February 21st: Henry V at 7:00 PM
• Tuesday, February 22nd: Twelfth Night at 7:00 PM
• Wednesday, February 23rd: Twelfth Night at 2:00 PM
• Wednesday, February 23rd: Henry V at 7:00 PM
• Thursday, February 24th: Twelfth Night at 7:00 PM
• Friday, February 25th: Henry V at 2:00 PM
• Friday, February 25th: Twelfth Night at 7:00 PM
• Saturday, February 26th: Twelfth Night at 2:00 PM
• Saturday, February 26th: Henry V at 7:00 PM
• Sunday, February 27th: Henry V at 2:00 PM
• Sunday, February 27th: Twelfth Night at 7:00 PM.