Program Cover

“Hey! I’m so glad you picked up!”

It’s For You is an approximately one hour long one-on-one phone conversation with me, Britt.

I play myself, you play yourself, and together we'll talk about our environments, our feelings, and some poetry I just can't get out of my head. We'll also create a new poem together.

Feels like: someone handing you the landline phone ("it's for you!") when unexpected phone calls were still an exciting thing, or that third hour in your first overnight conversation with a new crush.

Britt A Willis
(Writer/Performer)

is a DC-based theatre practitioner and game creator who likes theatre that winks at you from behind the curtain. They are a current member of Playwrights' Center and the Freelancer’s Union and run the theatreWashington Mentoring Program. You can catch Britt tweeting about process @feelingfickle, find their games at feelingfickle.itch.io, and explore examples of their other work, including design, at brittawillis.com.

Joan Cummins
(Dramaturg)

is a dramaturg, historian, and deviser who specializes in new plays and interactive performance, especially when used as a tool to make history accessible. She is a primary collaborator with The Arcanists on The Tarot Reading. Other engagements include dog & pony dc, Signature Theatre, Young Playwright's Theatre, WSC Avant Bard, and the Welders. When not crafting plays, she works to bring everyone's favorite introverted president Lincoln back to life at President Lincoln's Cottage, your local genius loci and a home for brave ideas.

Illustration of the landline phone by artist and game creator Dee Harris.

The Lady Of Shalott
by Alfred Lord Tennyson
(1842 version)

Part I
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
     To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
     The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
     Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
     The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
     Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
     The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
     Down to tower'd Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers " 'Tis the fairy
     Lady of Shalott."

Part II
There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
     To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
     The Lady of Shalott.

And moving thro' a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
     Winding down to Camelot:
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
     Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad,
     Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
And sometimes thro' the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
     The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often thro' the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
     And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed:
"I am half sick of shadows," said
     The Lady of Shalott.

Part III
A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
     Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
     Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
     As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon'd baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
     Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,
     As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro' the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
     Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;
On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow'd
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
     As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash'd into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
     Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro' the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
     She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
     The Lady of Shalott.

Part IV
In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
     Over tower'd Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
     The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seër in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance—
With a glassy countenance
     Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
     The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right—
The leaves upon her falling light—
Thro' the noises of the night
     She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
     The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darken'd wholly,
     Turn'd to tower'd Camelot.
For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
     The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
     Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
     The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? and what is here?,
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they cross'd themselves for fear,
     All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
     The Lady of Shalott."

The Gentleman Of Shalott
by Elizabeth Bishop
(1936)

Which eye’s his eye?
Which limb lies
Next the mirror?
For neither is clearer
Nor a different colour
Than the other,
Nor meets a stranger
In this arrangement
Of leg and leg and
Arm and so on.
To his mind
It’s the indication
Of a mirrored reflection
Somewhere along the line
Of what we call the spine.

He felt in modesty
His person was
Half looking-glass
For why should he
Be doubled?
The glass must stretch
Down his middle,
Or rather down the edge.
But he’s in doubt
As to which side’s in or out
Of the mirror.
There’s little margin for error,
But there’s no proof, either.
And if half his head’s reflected,
Thought, he thinks, might be affected.

But he’s resigned
To such economical design.
If the glass slips
He’s in a fix –
Only one leg, etc. But
While it stays put
He can walk and run
And his hands can clasp one
Another. The uncertainty
He says he
Finds exhilarating. He loves
That sense of constant re-adjustment.
He wishes to be quoted as saying at present:
‘Half is enough.’

Venmo (@Britt-A-Willis) / PayPal

These performances are Pay-What-You-Want. Theatre tickets can often cost anywhere from $15 to $100; we ask you to donate whatever feels fair to you after the performance. If paying is difficult for you right now, please attend anyway and skip donating - no one will be turned away, no judgement, no questions asked.

Image of The Lady Of Shalott taking on the phone.

So many thanks to:

Beta testers - Dee Harris, Jon Jon Johnson, and Rebecca Wahls
Quill Nebeker
Paperless Playhouse
Alyssa Willis Peschell
Natalie Ann Valentine
Annette and Terry Volk
Pete Volk