The Intimate Memoirs of Madame Shakespeare - MIT Global Shakespeares (di Biasi, 2007)

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The Intimate Memoirs of Madame Shakespeare

Anne: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”– he asked me. “No, thank you!” I replied. Anne Hathaway’s dismissive words in the beginning of The Intimate Diaries of Madam Shakespeare (2007) set the tone for the Brazilian stage adaptation of Robert Nye’s novel, Mrs. Shakespeare: The Complete Works (2001). The quote from the famous sonnet and Anne’s smug dismissal of her husband’s words capture the spirit of the play.

The Brazilian production innovates by introducing a remarkable dramatic effect: two actresses play Anne Hathaway. The young Anne is complacent and romantic, whereas the mature one is hard, bitter but sharp and quick witted. Sitting in opposite sides of the stage, the two Hathaways narrate different and yet complementary versions of Shakespeare’s life.  The audience learns about Shakespeare’s slow-paced life in Stratford as well as the effervescence of his London life. The play also proposes solutions to some of the mysteries that have haunted Shakespeare’s biographers for centuries such as “the second best bed” mentioned in his will as well as the intriguing dark lady of the sonnets. The two dissonant voices sketch an intelligent, fun, erotic and human picture of the relationship between the English playwright and his wife, eight years his senior, who, according to the play, was never interested in reading a single page of his works.

To director and adaptor Emílio Di Biasi, The Intimate Diary of Madame Shakespeare “reveals, through poetry, humor and sensuality, the ambivalence that did not belong exclusively to Anne Hathaway nor her husband, but to all human beings whose contradictions Shakespeare explored better than anybody else. And here lies one of the charms of the play: to unveil the creation of art through fantasy and freedom”.


Author: Robert Nye
Directed and adapted by: Emílio Di Biasi
Translated by: Marcos Daud
Production Director: Alexandre Brazil
Setting: André Cortez
Costume Design: Beth Filipecki
Lighting: Wagner Freire
Music: André Abujamra
Choreography and gesture: Renata Melo
Assistant Director: Nicole Aun
Assistant of Production: Vitor Souza
Administration: Adriana Chung


Norma Bengell and Maria Manoella as Anne Hathaway


Production notes provided by Cristiane Busato Smith.



The Intimate Memoirs of Madame Shakespeare

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One Comment

  • Alex Strauss says:

    I thought that this video was very intriguing with its stark set of only two antique chairs and a screen in the middle. The sparse set was supplemented by two speakers dressed in full costume that suggested a very Shakespearean style of Elizabethan England.The contrast of the costumes and set allow for the audience to enter the production with ideas of opposites. The decision to contrast the two speakers by placing them on opposing sides of the stage with both opposing styles of clothing and cultures echoes this theme. This study of opposites: young vs. old, rich vs. poor seemed to suggest viewing the world from different points of view, which was echoed by the way the two speakers never seem to meet eyes until several minutes into the clip. When they do look towards each other, they look agitated, speaking in the heat of anger without actually listening to their opponent. Without understanding Portuguese or knowing the plot, these staging decisions resonate powerfully in my interpretation of “The Intimate Memoirs of Madame Shakespeare.”

    TAGS: Two Speakers, Simple Set, Minimal Props, Chairs