UCSB Department of Theater/Dance’s new play development program LAUNCH PAD will present a preview production of a new play, “SHE WOLF Margaret of Anjou,” written by Katie Bender and directed by artistic director Risa Brainin.

Playwright Karen Bender wearing bright red sweater leans over a notebook as she watches a rehearsal of her new play.
Playwright Katie Bender watches a rehearsal of her new play at UCSB. Credit: Courtesy photo

Bender brings an innovative, contemporary perspective to the historical figure of Margaret, Queen of England. Audience members will experience her journey through 1400s English monarchy at UCSB’s Performing Arts Theater Feb. 22 through March 5.

Bender joins UCSB in residence from Austin, Texas. Asked why she thinks “SHE WOLF” is an important story to tell in society today, Bender said, “The issues Margaret was dealing with way back in the 1400s — civil unrest, extreme inequality, xenophobia, misogyny, the plague — are all part of our current national conversation.

“Margaret was married to Henry VI in an effort to broker a peace, only to be posthumously written off as a power-hungry ‘she wolf’ whose reign brought the country to war.” 

UCSB’s LAUNCH PAD program invites playwrights to work in residence for one quarter with a team of professional designers, UCSB faculty, and student actors, to develop a fully staged preview production of their new work. Designers are working in real time as the playwright develops the play.

“This play is set in the 1400s but, as with all theater, it comes to life in the theatrical now time that exists between audience and performer,” Bender said. “The big design question we faced was how to bridge history and this present moment.

“Early on, costume designer Kim Sorenson shared gorgeous images of contemporary couture pieces that had touches of the gothic: a heavy wool collar, an embroidered sleeve. It was a real aha! moment for the whole team.”

Praising the UCSB program, Bender said: “LAUNCH PAD is such a unique program in the new play development ecosystem in America.

“‘SHE WOLF’ is a very new, very theatrical and very ambitious script. Having so many talented artists work on the play has made the script better, and my understanding of what the play can do for an audience, so much clearer.”

Click here for more information about the play and artists.

Tickets costs are: pre-sale $17 general admission, $13 student/faculty/staff/senior; day-of $19 general admission, $15 student/faculty/staff/senior.

Tickets can be purchased online.

Note: Health protocols for 2022-23 events will be determined in conjunction with evolving state, local and university guidelines, and are subject to change. Check Theater/Dance website for details and updates closer to the date of the event.