Tina Packer is a remarkable individual whom we have had the pleasure of knowing for many years. She was the founding director of Shakespeare and Company and continues with the company as an actress and a director and an inspiration for everyone. She was also recently appointed as Monan Professor in Theatre Arts at Boston College for the 2014-2015 academic year. She has previously lectured at many different colleges and has received many awards for her acting and directing.
She is also an author. In 2001 she applied her knowledge of Shakespeare to management with her co-writer John Whitney in the book Power Plays: Shakespeare’s Lessons in Leadership & Management. She also wrote a book for children Tales from Shakespeare (2004) which received the Parents’ Choice Award. She as a new book coming out in 2015 Women of Will based on her wonderful theatrical presentation of the various women in Shakespeare’s plays and how he evolved in his understanding of them.
There is a very readable book about the founding of Shakespeare and Company called Companies She Keeps: Tina Packer Builds a Theatre by Helen Epstein. This book was published in 1985 when Shakespeare and Company had been in operation for eight years. This was about when we started going to it..
Tina’s quality comes through clearly in this book. All that I have always loved about her is evident. She is a vital force and her ideas about Shakespeare as vital and funny come through. I could hear so much of what our son Paul learned from her and Kristin Linklater as I read this book. It is also fun to see mentioned people that we have gotten to know more recently being referred to, such as Tony Simotes and John Hadden. We see pictures of the children Jason Asprey, Tina’s son and Hamish LInklater who are now actors in their own right, carrying on the wonderful traditions of their parents. .
The energy that is Tina shines on every page. She was an excellent fund raiser and grant writer because she believed so fully in what she was doing. It is interesting to learn that she has directed Learned Ladies a number of times. She wanted to be a director more than an actress. She wanted to play women who killed or were killed, so her Women of Will givers her that opportunity. She wanted to make Shakespeare’s language accessible and from the beginning clowning was also important in bringing Shakespeare alive. “Dropping in” is described in great detail and there are examples of Kristin’s and Tina’s classes. Much that is now in operation was there from the beginning, including Shakespeare in the Schools program, as well as the Winter Workshop. I am glad I finally got to read this book. It read quickly because it is smoothly written and because it was so meaningful to me personally, knowing the company as we do.
There is a women of will website women-of-will.com
Meanwhile here is a trailer of when Nigel Gore and Tina performed Women of Will in New York