Supporting creative work by women
Winnie Lok is one of the producers of Facing Page Productions, the company that has carried on the tradition of Company’s Marathon–a wall-to-wall reading of the whole Shakespeare canon over the course of a few days. Anyone can join in the fun and play a role they have always dreamed about. On November 18th, Facing Page Productions will host Sonnet Karaoke, a fundraiser for the Marathon. You can hear some of Broadway’s most talented folks – Marva Hicks, Veanne Cox, Joey Slotnick, more — read their favorite Shakespearean sonnets at Gossip Restaurant and Bar (733 Ninth Ave., Manhattan).
Works by Women caught up with Winnie and spoke with her about the Marathon, her life as a stage manager and what Shakespearean roles she would like to read.
WORKS BY WOMEN: What is your favorite Shakespearean sonnet? And why?
WINNIE LOK: Sonnet 16 is my favorite, not because of it’s conventional meaning, but because when I first read it, I felt it was forcing me to push myself and ask myself the hard questions. I was at a point where I was figuring out aspects of my life that I needed to work on and this sonnet really gave me the boost that I needed.
WBW: What excites you about Sonnet Karaoke?
WL: Any money we raise from Sonnet Karaoke will ultimately benefit Company’s Marathon 2014, which is an annual event that my co-producer, Ryan McCurdy, and I are extremely excited about. More below!
WBW: The event benefits the 2014 Marathon. Why did you first get involved with the Marathon?
WL: I got involved in 2002 in Los Angeles and I stumbled upon something on the web or the LA Times about the Company’s Marathon. I went to the website and signed up to read in my favorite play, Richard III. The reading time was set at 3am and I arrived at The Met, a black box theater, where there were some guys sitting on armchairs and sofas set onstage reading Shakespeare out loud. I stood hesitantly until one of the guys waved me over and asked if I was there to read Richard III. I whispered back that I was and he told me to jump in since they were running ahead of schedule. I did (they made me read all the women and more) and I was hooked. I signed up for 2 more readings in that Marathon and was stalking the Internet for its next appearance. In 2004, I even volunteered to help run an 8-hour shift. It was really cool to me to be a part of an event where “civilians” like myself could read aloud the words of the Bard with no judgment and purely for the love of Shakespeare’s works.
WBW: What role or roles do you hope to read in next year’s Marathon?
WL: If my schedule allows, I would love to read Queen Margaret in Richard III and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing.
WBW: What is next for you?
WL: I work as a theater stage manager and I’m in previews for August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned at the Signature Theatre right now. Next month, I start rehearsals for John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar for Manhattan Theatre Club.
For Facing Page Productions, we are working on a few possible projects for 2014. Of course, our next big event after Sonnet Karaoke is to continue planning for Company’s Marathon 2014.
WBW: What are the challenges facing women in American theater?
WL: I think the biggest challenge is our lack of presence, which is hard when producers aren’t doing works by women or hiring women directors. But I hope that it is getting better. It’s hard to tell when you’re working in a city like New York where we have such diversity. I do occasionally sense that I’m working in a boys’ club and that I have to fight a little more to be heard and to gain respect. It doesn’t happen much, but it does happen.
WBW: What gives you hope for women in American theater?
WL: We’re making strides for sure. There are more and more new plays produced that are written by women and/or directed by women. These new plays will cast an eye to past plays written by women and I hope that we will see a resurgence of those as well. We are speaking up and we’re going to be loud and make sure we’re heard.