Margaret Shakespeare, age 13, must write her remarkable plays in secret: it is 1577, and a girl who can read and write is in danger from the witch-hunters. After all, as her father keeps reminding her, a woman’s place is in the home…next to a big pile of laundry. Once the sweet but dim William discovers his sister’s astonishing talent, a chain of events is set in motion that will change both their lives forever. What happens to women of genius in a world that wants only their silence? Can a sister’s determination — and a brother’s unfailing love — really conquer all? Seamlessly translated from the original French by Leanna Brodie, this strikingly original play with music tackles the big feminist questions with wit, heart, and infectious energy. Winner of Quebec’s prestigious Prix de la critique and Prix Louise-Lahaye, Rébecca Déraspe’s I Am William has toured France, Spain, and the province of Quebec to great acclaim. This English version, commissioned by Theatre Le Clou, was also a hit at the Stratford Festival.
News & Reviews
“CRITIC’S PICK: Fresh and delightful.” — Kelly Nestruck, Globe and Mail
“A clever, funny, and thoughtful family-friendly production that is sure to have theatre-goers of all ages engaging in meaningful conversations one minute, while singing a catchy ‘horse’ song to themselves the next.” — BroadwayWorld.com
“I Am William radiates both charm and substance…Déraspe’s clever faux-Shakespeare could be the real thing in terms of rhythm and rhyme, and I stand in awe of the playwright’s long-time translator, Leanna Brodie, who rendered the lines into Shakespearean English.” — Paula Citron, ludwig-van.com
“Rébecca Déraspe has written a wonderful play in I Am William and it is beautifully translated by Leanna Brodie. The language dazzles. At times it seems we are witnessing linguistic gymnastics on the level of Simone Biles — words and syllables rhyme in triplicate. Women and girls are championed and credited with creativity and tenacity at a time when both were dangerous.” — The Slotkin Letter
“Balances lighthearted comedy with heartfelt emotion to explore themes of gender equality and societal oppression…If younger audience members can take just one lesson from I Am William, it’s this: true talent comes in all forms, sizes, genders and races.” — London Free Press
“The young protagonists of I Am William explicitly aspire to the total emancipation of girls and boys from our gendered expectations of them. A text as playful as it is intelligent, and as sensitive as it is politically engaged. Its sense of humour, among other things, ensures that the script never veers into the didactic, much less into moralizing” — JEU magazine
“Rébecca Déraspe offers us a brilliant text, blending truth and fiction in order to speak of love and the power of dreams.” — montheatre.qc.ca
“An inspiring play for all ages.” — Huffington Post
About the Author
Rébecca Déraspe graduated from the playwriting programme of the National Theatre School of Canada in May 2010. She is the author of a number of internationally produced and translated plays, including Deux ans de votre vie (You Are Happy), Plus que toi, Peau d’ours, Gamètes (Gametes), Nino, Je suis William (I Am William), Le merveilleux voyage de Réal de Montréal, Partout ailleurs, Nos petits doigts, Faire la leçon (The Lessons), and Ceux qui se sont évaporés. She has adapted several classics, including Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night and Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Her plays Les filles du Saint-Laurent, Fanny, and Faire crier les murs were recently produced in France and Québec, and she is now developing her play Les glaces at Théâtre la Licorne, where she has been a playwright-in-residence since 2018. Déraspe won the Prix Michel-Tremblay and the 2020 Montréal Critics’ Prize for Best New Play for Ceux qui se sont évaporés; the 2018 Montréal Critic’s Prize for Best Play for Young Audiences and the Prix Louise-Lahaye for Je suis William; the 2017 Montréal Critics’ Prize for Best New Play for Gamètes, which toured throughout Québec and across Canada; and the 2010 BMO Financial Group Playwright’s Prize for Deux ans de votre vie. She writes and hosts the web series Le lexique de la polémique for Savoir Média.
About the Translator
Leanna Brodie’s plays and libretti have been performed from Halifax to Vancouver, London to Auckland. The Vic, For Home and Country, The Book of Esther, and Schoolhouse are published by Talonbooks. She is also a noted translator of Québécois and Franco-Canadian drama whose recent productions include Hélène Ducharme’s internationally acclaimed Baobab; David Paquet’s award-winning The Shoe (The Cherry Artspace, Ithaca NY) and Wildfire (Upstream Theater, St. Louis MO and Factory Theatre, Toronto ON); Joe Jack et John’s Violette (Espace Libre, Montréal PQ); Catherine Léger’s I Lost My Husband! (Ruby Slippers Theatre/Gateway Theatre, Vancouver BC and Persephone Theatre, Saskatoon SK); Mohsen El Gharbi’s Omi Mouna (Impact Festival, Kitchener ON and Infinithéâtre, Montréal QC) and Rébecca Déraspe’s You Are Happy (GCTC and Red Theater Chicago). Three of her translations have been nominated for Tom Hendry Awards. She is currently translating new works by Fanny Britt, Rébecca Déraspe, Sébastien Harrisson, and Olivier Sylvestre; completing her MFA at the University of Calgary; teaching playwrighting at UBC; and co-writing Salesman in China (a commission from the Stratford Festival) with Jovanni Sy.