OUR MISSION

The Fools & Kings Project is dedicated to bringing accessible, engaging theatre to New York City and its surrounding areas, with an emphasis on Shakespeare and other classical texts. Simple yet compelling design, combined with a fast-paced, high-stakes approach creates powerful, enticing productions which attract the expert and novice alike.

OF FOOLS & KINGS

Separated by half a country for a year, we found that our love of Shakespeare and a very Grecian-looking park in NYC sparked a strong desire to put up A Midsummer Night's Dream...and soon.

As we discussed more and more plays, and half-joked about doing ALL of Shakespeare's work, the joke eventually became: "Why not?" Once we had accepted that we were now destined to produce these shows, we realized that we needed a name. After a lengthy debate, we finally settled on The Fools & Kings Project.

The project's name was born of a fascination with Shakespeare's approach to class, and how it formed the actions of his characters. Many times in his plays, the kings and other members of the upper class behave ridiculously, while the fools and lower classes prove to be the true sages. The Fools & Kings Project will explore that dichotomy throughout the Bard's body of work.

-Vanessa & Melissa

"Jesters do oft prove prophets."  -King Lear, Act V, Scene iii

DOUBLE TROUBLE

THE FOUNDERS

                              "Though she be but little, she is fierce." Melissa Meli (Artistic Director) often gets iambic pentameter stuck in her head instead of songs. She's been acting since age three, when she toured with New York City Opera tour in Madame Butterfly. Her parents were both opera singers, and as a child, she requested opera plots instead of bedtime stories, and her mom would sometimes sing "Not While I'm Around" from Sweeney Todd (yes, the show about revenge and cannibalism) as a lullaby. During college, Melissa found that her musical background helped her soak up the rhythm of Shakespeare's verse, and she later found herself getting called in for Shakespeare auditions more often than anything else. Melissa's gotten to play a couple of her dream roles, Desdemona and Ophelia, a few that she didn't realize were dream roles - Julia, the Syracusan Dromio, Puck - and a litany of other wonderful characters. Other favorites include Jenny (The Shape of Things), Miss Brittney/Tierra Rose (Pageant Princess) and Maureen (Runo Rimac). She's also a director, trained at Playwrights Horizons Theater School. Her directing credits include The Importance of Being Earnest and the Humane Society benefit, Broadway Meows. She holds a BFA from NYU, Tisch School of the Arts. Melissa met Vanessa doing The Merchant of Venice, and they became friends when Vanessa jinxed Melissa for a half an hour while they were watching football. Now, they finish each other's sentences, so Vanessa has a plethora of jinxing opportunities. Melissa develops physical pangs of longing for Disney World, she loves decorating her apartment, and she's currently wearing TARDIS slippers. She loves mushy, pathetic-looking creatures, as evidenced by her boston terrier, Romeo.

                              "Though she be but little, she is fierce."

Melissa Meli (Artistic Director) often gets iambic pentameter stuck in her head instead of songs. She's been acting since age three, when she toured with New York City Opera tour in Madame Butterfly. Her parents were both opera singers, and as a child, she requested opera plots instead of bedtime stories, and her mom would sometimes sing "Not While I'm Around" from Sweeney Todd (yes, the show about revenge and cannibalism) as a lullaby. During college, Melissa found that her musical background helped her soak up the rhythm of Shakespeare's verse, and she later found herself getting called in for Shakespeare auditions more often than anything else. Melissa's gotten to play a couple of her dream roles, Desdemona and Ophelia, a few that she didn't realize were dream roles - Julia, the Syracusan Dromio, Puck - and a litany of other wonderful characters. Other favorites include Jenny (The Shape of Things), Miss Brittney/Tierra Rose (Pageant Princess) and Maureen (Runo Rimac). She's also a director, trained at Playwrights Horizons Theater School. Her directing credits include The Importance of Being Earnest and the Humane Society benefit, Broadway Meows. She holds a BFA from NYU, Tisch School of the Arts. Melissa met Vanessa doing The Merchant of Venice, and they became friends when Vanessa jinxed Melissa for a half an hour while they were watching football. Now, they finish each other's sentences, so Vanessa has a plethora of jinxing opportunities. Melissa develops physical pangs of longing for Disney World, she loves decorating her apartment, and she's currently wearing TARDIS slippers. She loves mushy, pathetic-looking creatures, as evidenced by her boston terrier, Romeo.

                            "I have a man's mind but a woman's might." Vanessa Wendt (Managing Director) is working on something witty and will be with you shortly. :)

                            "I have a man's mind but a woman's might."

Vanessa Wendt (Managing Director) is working on something witty and will be with you shortly. :)

The Magic Makers

The amazing people who work with us

"Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows."

"Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows."


Shann Smith (Social Media and Marketing Director) is an obnoxious daydreamer who spends way too much time on his laptop. He graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in 2015, and has been trying to carve his niche in the business ever since. When he's not writing plays and spec scripts, he's doing everything he can to get his own company off the ground. He likes to think of himself as the occasional actor, and has appeared in a few things - including an amazing production of Comedy of Errors - but he's realized he prefers to stay behind the curtain. During his time on said amazing production, he met and immediately clicked with Vanessa and Melissa and knew that they were going to work together again. Now, after spending last year producing and promoting two shows with two amazing teams, he's excited to bring all that he's learned to the F&K family.

 

 

"We know what we are, but know not what we may be."

"We know what we are, but know not what we may be."

 



 

Chelsea Rowe (Show Photographer) started with The Fools and Kings Project in their premiere production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream", but soon found a new role as their show photographer. With training and education from The International Center of Photography, Chelsea's specialty is in portraiture and nature. 

 

 

 

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."


Julie McNamara (Production Intern) Julie is thrilled to be working with Fools and Kings! Coming from the musical theater world, she is enjoying learning all she can about the Bard. With a degree in classical voice performance, Julie has always been oddly fascinated with complicated text, intricate love stories, and old- fashioned clothing. Favorite theater credits include Blue Fairy in Pinocchio, Madame Aubert in Titanic, Fairy Godmother in Shrek, and several new play festivals with TheAlphaNYC. Julie also greatly enjoys performing for and with kids, and mostly recently played a misfit toy aboard the "North Pole Express" this past holiday season. Originally from Boston, she holds a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Westminster Choir College, and currently studies improv at the Magnet Theater. When not onstage, she enjoys practicing and teaching yoga, knitting obsessively, and baking (and then eating most of the dough).