Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 224. Friday, 18 Sept. 1992.
From: Hardy M. Cook <
Date: Friday, September 18, 1992
Subject: New on the SHAKSPER FileServer: WIVES SCRIPT
As of today, SHAKSPEReans may retrieve David Richman's adaptation of
*Merry Wives of Windsor* for eight players from the SHAKSPER FileServer.
SHAKSPEReans can retrieve this adaptation by issuing the interactive
command, "TELL LISTSERV AT UTORONTO GET WIVES SCRIPT SHAKSPER." If your
network link does not support the interactive "TELL" command (i.e. if you
are not directly on Bitnet), or if Listserv rejects your request, then
send a one-line mail message (without a subject line) to LISTSERV@utoronto,
reading "GET WIVES SCRIPT SHAKSPER." Should you have difficulty receiving
this files, please contact the editor, <
For an updated version of the file list, send the command "GET SHAKSPER FILES
SHAKSPER" in the same fashion. For further information, consult the
appropriate section of your SHAKSPER GUIDE.
Below is a sample from WIVES SCRIPT that includes a Note to SHAKSPEReans
from Professor Richman, explaining his reasons for offering this script to
the members of the Conference.
THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
ARTSREACH playing script prepared by David Richman
NOTE TO SHAKSPERIANS
This adaptation of *The Merry Wives of Windsor* was made for the
ARTSREACH program of the University of New Hampshire's Department of
Theater and Dance. ARTSREACH's purpose is to bring dramatic productions
on tour to high schools, middle schools, libraries, and other
institutions throughout New Hampshire. The adaptation, performed
without intermission, can be played in about ninety minutes. For
touring purposes, we also excerpted a forty-five minute version from
this adaptation. I offer this version to SHAKSPER with the hope that it
will encourage other universities to consider launching similar touring
theatrical programs. If this version is used for any purpose, I request
that it be accompanied by the following note:
ADAPTED BY DAVID RICHMAN FOR THE ARTSREACH PROGRAM OF THE UNIVERSITY OF
NEW HAMPSHIRE'S DEPARTMENT OF THEATER AND DANCE
This version attempts to preserve the Falstaff story and the story
of Anne Page. Other plots and characters are cut. I have relied on the
Oxford Text Archive version of the 1623 Folio, though I have imported
the name Brooke and a few other things from the Quarto. I have
modernized some spelling and punctuation, and I have incorporated some
This version is intended for eight performers, four men and four
women, cast as follows:
Actor One: Falstaff
Actor Two: Ford
Actor Three: Page and Slender
Actor Four: Fenton, Host, Pistol
Actress One: Mistress Ford
Actress Two: Mistress Page and Caius
Actress Three: Anne Page, Bardolph, Robin
Actress Four: Mistress Quickly, Sir Hugh, Nym
All the actors became fairies and servants at need, and we brought
members of the audience on to the stage to participate in the fairies'
tormenting of Falstaff. There was no special lighting, and scenery was
minimal. We had several multipurpose stools which stacked, became
Herne's oak. We had a large prop box on stage that doubled as the
buckbasket and as the bar in the Garter Inn. A great deal of laundry
and other odd props were produced from this box.
Typically, performers would change personae in full view of the
audience. For example, Mistress Quickly would remove her velcroed skirt
and immediately become Sir Hugh or Nym. Fenton would don an apron and
become the host. The scene in which Fenton and the host converse, with
the single performer throwing off and on the apron and giving takes to
the spectators, was well received by our audiences. Slender and Caius
were represented by plywood torsos, painted and ornamented, and set on
wheels. Master and Mistress Page manipulated these creatures like
puppets, and spoke for them--ventriloquist fashion. We hoped the
results would be funny, and the audiences' reactions suggested that they
were. The prologue's purpose is to introduce the characters, and to get
the audience used to the notion that a single performer will be playing
several parts. As each character introduces himself or herself, that
character displays a symbolizing prop or costume piece.
University of New Hampshire
Prologue to THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR
"Green Sleeves" on kazoos. Then, enter symmetrically Mistress Ford
and Mistress Page.
Mistress Ford and Mistress Page. We are the merry wives of Windsor.
Mistress Ford. My husband, Master Frank Ford, has masses of money.
Mistress Page. My husband, Master George Page, has masses of money.
Page. My daughter, Anne Page, will inherit all my wealth.
Page. Anne Page also plays the page boy, Robin. Every . . . creature
in Windsor desires to marry her and possess her wealth. I
wish her to marry the rich young master Abraham Slender.
Slender. I am not a real man, and that is why Father Page desires Anne
to marry me.
Mistress Page. I do not like Master Slender.
Mistress Quickly (entering with Caius.) She likes my master, the
learned Doctor Caius.
Caius. I am not a real man, and that is why Mother Page desires Anne to
Fenton (entering.) I am called Master Fenton. I AM a real man.
Anne. That is why I desire to marry you.
Page. Tonight, Mistress Page and I are giving a great feast.
Ford. I despise feasting and chatter. I will not attend. (He exits.)
Mistress Ford. O, sweet Frank! I must attend the feast, for I must
rejoice with my dear friend, Meg Page.
Mistress Quicly. I must not attend the feast, for I must attend on my
master, Doctor Caius.
Sir Hugh. But I shall attend the feast. And when sweet Mistress Anne
does marry, I will speak the holy words. I am Sir Hugh, the
Nym. I attend no bloody feast. But my master will attend. My master
wants Page's money. I am a follower of Sir John Falstaff, the
fat knight. My name is Nym.
Fenton. I will not attend the feast. But after the feast, I will meet
secretly with you, Anne.
Pistol. No bloody feast I'll grace with discourse mild.
My master, Sir John Falstaff, WILL attend.
I am a follower of Sir John Falstaff, the fat knight. My name
is Pistol called.
Host. I will not attend the Pages' feast, for I make my own perpetual
feast. I am the jolly host of the Garter Inn, where Sir John
Falstaff lodges. I will not be a guest at the Pages' feast,
but the Pages' chief guest is my chief guest, that wondrous
fat knight-- (exits.)
Page. That roasted Manningtree ox--
Anne. With the pudding in his belly--
Mistress Page. That cloakbag of guts--
Mistress Ford. That huge hill of flesh--
Host (Off) Sir John Falstaff!
(Falstaff's grand entrance.)
Fal. Mistris Ford, by my troth you are very wel met: by your leave good
Mistris. (kisses her.)
Page. Wife, bid these gentlemen welcome. (Falstaff kisses Mistress
Anne. Shall I serve the wine in the great dining- chamber, father?
Slen. Oh heaven: This is sweet Anne Page!
Page. Yes, daughter. We and our guests shall drink within. Come, we
have a hot Venison pasty to dinner; Come gentlemen, I hope we
shall drinke downe all unkindnesse.
(Exeunt all but Slender and Evans.)