By Nikki Schwab, Washington Whispers
Members of Congress are known for giving long-winded speeches on the House and Senate floor, so it shouldn't be a stretch for them to recite a little faux Shakespeare. Well, it was last night. Lawmakers and political journalists gathered on stage to perform A Mid-Session Night's Dream, the story of a youthful Senate page who falls asleep during a filibuster. After "Senator Anonymous," played by California Rep. Jane Harman , puts the boy to sleep with her never-ending speech, he dreams of bringing William Shakespeare to Washington to inject his flowery language into Washington's debates on major issues.
The event, Will on the Hill, raised $250,000 for the Shakespeare Theatre Company. But Shakespeare would have been a bit embarrassed by the performances. Instead of Shakespearean drama, the players, dressed in floppy costumes, read their unpracticed lines from black binders, giving the show a middle school feel.
Some, like Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, delivered their lines with a certain gravitas. Others, like the District's Eleanor Holmes Norton, sputtered. Holmes Norton didn't seem to appreciate this line about Washington, either: "It's a nice place for a city that still doesn't get a congressional vote."
Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz prepared the audience for the worst. The playbill said she hadn't acted in more than 30 years, although her summer camp roles as Abigail Adams and Little Mary Sunshine "were critically acclaimed by parents and counselors alike." But she prevailed, sporting a Viking hat and delivering several laugh lines to the audience.
Noticeably missing from the cast was NBC's Chuck Todd, who was slated to perform. CNN's Jessica Yellin made up for it in acting chops.
Representative Jane Harman stars as the filibustering Senator Anonymous in Will on the Hill at Shakespeare Theatre Company. Photo by Kevin Allen.
Professional actors Tim Getman and Drew Eshelman join Representatives Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Jim McDermott in Will on the Hill at Shakespeare Theatre Company. Photo by Kevin Allen.
The cast of A Midsession Night’s Dream. Photo by Kevin Allen.
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