Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Chat with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I

Shake Stonington editor Alicia Anstead caught up with Queen Elizabeth I in Stonington, Maine, where the Virgin Queen is in residence June 30-July 16 for performances of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing at the Stonington Opera House. When Shakespeare himself was just 5 -- according to scholar Stephen Greenblatt's imaginative biography Will in the World -- he may have seen the queen's "traveling playing companies" (much like the one that come to Stonington each summer) and may have been influenced by the performances and later by the "charismatic power of royalty." The following is the queen's view of life on an island much smaller than the one she calls home. She's a classy lady. And she brought some very cool clothes with her. Want to ask Her Majesty a question? Catch up with her on Facebook.

Welcome to Stonington, Queen Elizabeth. How's your stay going so far?
The people are very kind and very, very generous, indeed. They've offered their lodgings, wonderful food -- their baked goods are extraordinary. And their fish is terrific. We would like to have that kind of fish at court every day.

What do you miss most about your home in London?
My dance master and my hundreds of thousands of dresses. But that's small conpared to the hospitality I've experienced in the provinces.

What do you look forward to the most about your stay?
More than anything, I look forward to engaging with Mr. Shakespeare's acting company in the wonderful barn where they are styaing for the night.

Mr. Shakespeare? Tell me about him.
I've seen him over the years and have met him on several occasions. He's an enigma. One never really knows what he's thinking. He gives clues, but he never says the thing itself. That is both wonderfully exciting and terribly frustrating. He's very elusive -- to say the least. But brilliant. It's no surprise to me that he's an Englishman.

I hear he has a new play called Much Ado About Nothing.
He does! And I, in particular, love the character of Beatrice. Her sentiments seem to parallel mine at the moment: She wants to remain independent. There's a song in the play with the line: "Ladies, sigh no more." I like the tune but the sentiment is very exciting to me.

What will you be wearing the night you see the play?
Probably my white gown. The pearls in the gown were given to me by an admirer. I don't think I should say his name. But I have asked the court seamstress to affix them to the gown. It's a brocade.

Anything else, Your Majesty?
I do yearly progresses throughout the land, and I am so glad I chose this place this summer. The climate is fantastic. The food is amazing. And the people are so kind. The men in my court could learn a great deal from the citizens in Stonington.