In 2007, Marin Shakespeare Company’s Managing Director Lesley Schisgall Currier was inducted into the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame, whose mission is “to discover and honor women in our varied community who serve as role models and demonstrate excellence in a wide range of endeavors.” Lesley was cited for her innovative and passionate work with Marin Shakespeare Company. One of the youngest women ever inducted in any category, Lesley joins other illustrious Arts nominees including Isabelle Allende, Winnifred Baker, Margie Belrose, Ann Brebner, Joanne Dunn, Mimi Farina, Anna Halprin, and Phyllis Thelen.
In accepting this honor, Lesley made the following remarks:
“I am humbled and honored tonight to join Phyllis and the other extraordinary women in the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame. It’s been my privilege to spend the last almost twenty years bringing Shakespeare to Marin – both though performances at Dominican University’s Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, and through educational programs for thousands of students of all ages each year.
I’ve been an actor since I was a child. My mother, who’s here tonight, chauffered me to many, many rehearsals before I was old enough to drive. (Thank you, mom.) But my first opportunity to play Shakespeare didn’t come until I was in college. The role was Titania in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the embodiment of female power in the universe; a wild dancer in the moonlight; fierce, foolish, and forgiving – it’s no wonder I fell in love with Shakespeare.
Another favorite role is Lady Macbeth: overly ambitious, morally bankrupt murderess? Or, a devoted helpmeet who reaches for the stars but turns out to be all too human? The great thing about Shakespeare is that all his characters – just like each of us in this room – are complex, contradictory and conspicuously ambiguous. What Shakespeare allows us to do – something not all of us in the room, myself included, can often achieve – is to turn the story of each persons’ challenges and foibles, triumphs and quotidian joys into poetry.
Shakespeare, like Shahrazad, is a story teller who makes us better people for challenging us to try to understand a Lady Macbeth, a Cleopatra of infinite variety, a naïve and passionate Juliet, a Rosalind who talks circles around everyone including herself.
Imagine the stories Shakespeare could have told about some of the amazing women in the Hall of Fame – Melba Beals in Little Rock Arkansas is every inch the warrior as King Henry before the walls of Agincourt; Anna Halprin is a Prospero-like magician of movement; wise women like Patty Garbarino and Barbara Boxer bring to mind Portia in the Venetian courtroom reminding us that we should do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do. The difference between a Shakespearean heroine like Portia and these modern day champions is that now-a-days we don’t need to disguise ourselves as men in order to be heard.
Shakespeare’s stories inspire and enchant us, and teach us compassion and empathy. I am thrilled to see an 8 or 12-year old student or an audience member under the summer stars wrapping their mouth and mind around that cornucopia of sound and fury. I look forward to creating a legacy of Shakespeare in Marin that will – I hope – far outlast my efforts. Marin Shakespeare Company would not exist without the support of many other people and so I share this tribute tonight with our audiences and students, our community partners, volunteer board members and all our supporters; Robert and Jackson and Nate for allowing our lives and home and just about every waking moment to be consumed by Shakespeare; and all of you for honoring the arts in this way.
For information on the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame, visit:
To read Lesley Currier’s biography on the Hall of Fame site, visit: