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TUESDAY, APRIL 23, 2024 | 7:30 PM 
Sheen Center Shiner Theatre | 18 Bleecker Street


Featuring Zainab Jah, Zachary Lopez Roa, and Nick Westrate

What do you write after you have written the world’s greatest play? Hopefully, not another Timon of Athens. Fortunately for Shakespeare, he is caught in the middle of the pandemic of 1603 and theaters are closed for a year. The plague opens his eyes to the mysteries of life and death when he is quarantined with a young Puritan lawyer and a mature streetwise prostitute. Will Shakespeare thrive creatively? Will his follow up play be as disappointing as his last? Or will he write his masterpiece?


God’s Spies, is one in a series of plays Cain has written about Shakespeare. “I wrote a play about Shakespeare writing Macbeth, I wrote another play fundamentally about Hamlet, and this one is about the fact that Shakespeare wrote King Lear in quarantine during the plague of 1603,” says Cain. This idea came to Cain during his own experience with quarantine during the Covid pandemic. In God’s Spies, Shakespeare is trapped in a “bawdy house” with a prostitute and a Puritan lawyer when everything in London is barred shut to keep the plague contained.


In the play, Shakespeare is smarting from the less-than-successful run of his most recent work, Timon of Athens. “What the play is about,” says Cain, “is after you’ve written Hamlet, what is there left to write? After you’ve written the best play in the history of the world, how do you top that? … He gets locked up in my version of it with a couple of very common people, and the experience with them opens him to the reality that becomes the play King Lear.”


Lear is my favorite play,” says Cain. “I think Lear is one of the greatest artifacts that any human being ever created.” The exploration of God’s Spies is how Shakespeare got from Hamlet, which Cain describes as a very “heady” experience, to King Lear, which he describes as an experience that affects the whole body. “My goal in writing is to show people their own greatness that is hidden from them. That’s what I always hope, that people will see that part of themselves in which greatness resides that is unrecognized.”


— Jenny Graham | Santa Barbara Independant 


Bill Cain is a writer for theater and television. His works for television have won the Peabody Award, the Writers’ Guild Award, the Humanitas Award, etc. His recent writing for television includes work for Netflix, "House of Cards," "Bloodlines," and Showtime, "Your Honor." His work for theater has won best play/best production awards across the country including Helen Hayes Awards in Washington DC, Ovation Awards in Los Angeles and the Joseph A. Callaway Award for his work on Broadway. He is the only writer ever to win back-to-back Steinberg/American Critics’ Awards. He founded and, for seven years, directed the Boston Shakespeare Company which performed the works of Shakespeare in year-long repertory. His most recent book – The Diary of Jesus Christ – was a best-selling title for Orbis books. His new book – The Book of Cain – was recently published – also by Orbis. Cain is a Jesuit priest.

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