PLAYS: FIT FOR A QUEEN
Fit for a Queen is inspired by the life of Hatshepsut, a woman who ruled as a pharaoh in ancient Egypt. The most dangerous opponent to Hatshepsut’s kingship turns out to be her own daughter. Full of intrigue, farce, and sexual politics, Fit for a Queen illuminates the largely unknown history of a compelling African woman who took power over the most advanced civilization the ancient world had yet known.
Fit for a Queen had its world premiere at the Classical Theatre of Harlem under the direction of Tamilla Woodard in 2016.
“Plenty of glamorous backstabbing, diva dissing and sexual double-crossing…has every right to claim the name “Dynasty” for itself. But the title character in Betty Shamieh’s bouncy, bumpy comic melodrama is the real thing. A queen, I mean, and not just of the self-dramatizing type. Scratch that. She’s more than a queen. She’s a pharaoh, one Hatshepsut, who reigned over Egypt for 20 odd years in the 15th-century B.C., and the distinction is important in a time when women rarely ruled, at least not officially. (Ancient days, huh?) A subversive speculation on the nature of power!’
-Ben Brantley, The New York Times
“Funny, both witty—Shamieh’s sharp-tongued women lacerate one another and their shared opponents—and farcical! Fit for a Queen” may have attracted attention due to its election-season parallels…but it’s Senenmut who is [Shamieh’s] favorite kind of antihero: the oppressed subject who refuses to play angel, the recipient of horrors who manages to deliver some horrors of her own. She’s bundled contradictions, as the best-written characters always are: power-hungry but empathetic; hardened through experience but naive enough to be betrayed; often the smartest person in the room, so always surprised when she’s outwitted. “
“If the premise sounds like a history lesson, this play delivers a hilarious, beautifully written tale of what it takes to be a woman in power and how absolute power does inevitably corrupt absolutely…the writing is both poetic and powerful and the comedy is intelligent and sharp. The wily Senenmut has an evil streak that rivals many a Shakespearean villain.”
Fit For A Queen reveals the life and reign of Hatshepsut in a way never before explored, thus ensuring Hatshepsut’s name is not lost to the ages.