Kingsmen Shakespeare Camp adds Puppet Workshop

Shakespeare Camp 2015The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company Summer Theatre Camp is adding a new Puppet Workshop to its schedule this year. In the new session taught by camp director Aaron Anthony Bonilla, campers 8 to 16 will build and learn to manipulate marionettes culminating in a public showcase of scenes from Romeo and Juliet.

Shakespeare Camp, now in its 30th year, is co-presented by California Lutheran University and provides opportunities for children to learn theater techniques and try them out on stage while developing self-awareness, confidence and discipline.

In Beginning Shakespeare, children aged 8 to 12 will learn about the Bard, textual analysis, vocabulary, stage movement and combat techniques as they prepare to present a condensed version of Taming of the Shrew or Comedy of Errors. Training for 8- to 16-year-olds continues with Advanced Shakespeare, which covers Shakespeare scenes, stage combat, period dance and acting techniques in more depth and concludes with the presentation of an abridged Macbeth. This year, Advanced Shakespeare will be an all-day camp, and all-day and half-day options will be available for Beginning Shakespeare.

Musical Theatre for 12- to 16-year-olds will cover vocal technique, acting and dance and end with a performance of selections from a musical.

Bonilla_AaronBonilla, in his second year as director, helped develop the curriculum and designed the teacher-development program for the apprentices who teach in the camp. A graduate of the Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts, he has devoted himself to theater production, performance and education for 14 years. He has also worked with the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in downtown LA and taught private lessons with The Puppet School of Culver City.

Barbara Wegher-Thompson, who teaches dance and movement at Cal Lutheran and has been involved with the Young Artists Ensemble, will again teach Musical Theatre. Teachers, actors and Kingsmen Shakespeare Company members round out the staff.

Two-week sessions begin June 15 and continue through July 31. Classes will be held in the Cal Lutheran Theatre Arts Building and adjoining spaces.

For more information, visit, call 805-493-3452 or email Registration is available online.

Fringe Spotlight: R&J, a gender reversed Romeo and Juliet

R&J Mine is Yours

Dane Oliver and Mary Ellen Schneider. Photo credit: Jenn Spain Photography

Mine is Yours Theatre Company remounts its adventurous 90-minute production of R&J, a gender-reversed Romeo and Juliet, following a successful preview run last November at Theatre of NOTE. While remaining faithful to Shakespeare’s language, R&J transforms Romeo into Romea, Juliet into Julian, Friar Laurence into Sister Laurence, etc., in an extravaganza of gender-swapping that makes this classic love story resonate in an electrifying new way.

The company knew last fall that they wanted their next production to be a fully gender-reversed Shakespeare classic. Given their mission statement to create more roles for women in every aspect of theatre, Shakespeare’s plays as written can present a challenge in terms of female representation onstage.

Mine is Yours executive director Hannah Pell explains, “Given the theatrical and legal constraints of his era, you can hardly blame Shakespeare for writing primarily male roles, and the female roles he did write are absolutely brilliant! But Shakespeare’s characters embody such fundamental truths about human nature that their words translate beautifully from one gender to another, and we wanted to see what might be revealed about these archetypal characters when you put their words in the mouths of the opposite gender.”   More

Pop Culture Meets Shakespeare Meets Art

Michael Hsiung  1

On Friday, June 12, the Daniel Rolnik Gallery in Santa Monica is opening a new exhibit entitled The Fake History of the World, curated by art critic Daniel Rolnik. Rolnik showcases original art and prints that are hip and fun, with plenty of humor thrown in for good measure, just a stone’s throw from the ocean.

One of the artists who will be showing his work is Michael C. Hsiung, and one of Michael’s illustrations is inspired by none other than William Shakespeare. I’m always interested in how Shakespeare influences contemporary creative people, whether the medium is theatre, dance, music, or art, so I asked Michael to tell us about his Shakespeare connection.

“In college I was an English major, so often a lot of my drawings are titled after lengthy title chapters or influenced by writing and histories. Naturally I gravitated towards Shakespeare’s works and histories, and even studied abroad a semester in Bath, England. I had a whole course on Shakespeare when I was there too. I was always fascinated by what was behind Shakespeare’s genius, as well as the various theories about whether or not he was actually real. I remember visiting his house, seeing Othello in the theater, and then skinny dipping with classmates in the Stratford Upon Avon. In terms of my artwork, I find that my interests in literature always show up in my drawings — in the title, from a story, or just by creating my own narrative. These things tend to seep out when I’m doodling.”  More

Rutina Wesley to Star in The Old Globe’s TWELFTH NIGHT

Rutina WesletyThe Old Globe has announced the cast and creative team for its upcoming production of Twelfth Night, which stars Rutina Wesley as Viola, directed by Rebecca Taichman. Previews begin on June 21 and the show runs through July 26, 2015, with opening night on Saturday, June 27 at 8:00 pm.

Everything we love about Shakespeare–romance, music, poetry, laughter, swordplay, great characters, and even a girl in pants–is in Twelfth Night. Shipwrecked and alone in foreign Illyria, young Viola masquerades as a boy and becomes the go-between for the lovesick Duke Orsino and the beautiful Countess Olivia. Soon Viola finds herself in the middle of a topsy-turvy love triangle with lunacy on every side.

True Blood’s Rutina Wesley stars as Viola, with Sara Topham as Olivia and LeRoy McClain as Sebastian, Amy Aquino as Maria, Terence Archie as Orsino, Manoel Felciano as Feste, Robert Joy as Malvolio, Patrick Kerr as Andrew Aguecheek, and Tom McGowan as Sir Toby Belch. Joining them are Old Globe/USD Graduate Theatre Program actors Amy Blackman, Lindsay Brill, Charlotte Bydwell, Lowell Byers, Ally Carey, Jamal Douglas, Tyler Kent, Makha Mthembu, Daniel Petzold, Megan M. Storti, Nathan Whitmer, and Patrick Zeller.  More

Fringe Spotlight: Bright Swords – The Story of Ira Aldridge

Ryan Vincent AndersonRyan Vincent Anderson will star in Bright Swords by Rick Creese at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival. The one-man show tells the true story of African-American actor Ira Aldridge, who fled racial hatred in New York in 1825, became a star of the European stage, and inspired the successful campaign to end slavery in the British Empire. Talk about making a difference.

In this short interview, Ryan [pictured right in Twelfth Night at the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival] gives us his thoughts about the show and what to expect from Bright Swords. Enjoy!

Ryan, how are rehearsals for the show going?

I have been having a blast with director Jeffrey Wienckowski. I have never done a one man show before so it was exciting to find my footing in the process, which has been going on since May 8th. We work well together because we listen to each other’s instincts and try things out in the moment, rather than over talk issues. This saves a lot of time and makes for a very quick and efficient process. We are kind of like two cooks having fun in the kitchen. Hopefully our dish is received well.  More

Fringe Spotlight: SHAKESPEARE(ISH) is Family Fun Rogue Style


Here’s one for those of you looking for a show for the whole family this summer. Rogue Artists Ensemble is bringing its hit Shakespeare project Shakespeare(ish) to the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival, running June 8 – 28 at Theatre Asylum (The Elephant Space) in Hollywood. Shakespeare(ish) is twisted love poetry on the edge of madness and merriment – a sword fight with masked kings, prophesying puppets and singing clowns. In this hyper-fun, hyper-family-friendly performance, Rogue Artists Ensemble digs down to the heart of the Bard, sharing the joys, the sorrows and the non-stop action of the greatest playwright of all time.

“We’ve drawn on nearly twenty of Shakespeare’s plays, singing the text, manipulating it with computers, altering words into rhythmic music, even rapping text to a home-brewed beat box score,” says director Sean T. Cawelti. “The show is manic, musical, incredibly colorful and irreverent. We want to reinvigorate the Bard, to make him even more accessible for all ages.”  More

Zombie Joe’s Underground Fringe Opens with OTHELLO

ZJU - OthelloZombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group presents Josh T. Ryan and Zombie Joe’s wet n’ wild, high-euro-fashion adaptation of Shakespeare’s tale of love, murder and betrayal, where glamour is a rocky road and jealousy is a green-eyed monster. Directed by Josh T. Ryan, Othello headlines Zombie Joe’s 1st Annual Underground Fringe and will open Saturday, May 30th at 8:30 pm, running Fridays and Saturdays through June 27.

May 30 – June 27, 2015
ZJU Theatre Group
4850 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Tickets: $15
Call: 818-202-4120 or go to
For more info:

Fringe Spotlight: Shakespeare’s Last Night Out (Or “What? YOU, Will??)

Shakespeare's Last Night Out

Legend has it that Shakespeare died after a night of drinking. This is that night. Beginning June 7th, Orgasmico Theatre Company follows up its previous Fringe successes, Exorcistic: The Rock Musical Parody Experiment and Doomsday Cabaret, with a one-man tavern musical in which the Bard of Avon sings in defense of his authorship. That’s right. A singing Shakespeare!

What does anyone really know about the Bard? After 450 years, lingering questions have spawned conspiracy theories about secret authors, from Christopher Marlowe to Edward DeVere. The list of literary usurpers goes on and on, and brings us back to an essential question: could an actor, and son of a mere glove-maker, have written that magnificent canon?

On the eve of his death, an ailing Shakespeare is out drinking when he has a prophetic vision that his authorship will be contested in the future. Thus, he sets out to stake his claim once and for all. Raise your cups with Will as he takes his last audience through the tale of his life with a series of tavern songs, ranging from bawdy to heartbreaking. Backed by his Muses who play a variety of instruments, Will recreates the unknown events and eccentric characters that shaped his life and inspired his work. Orgasmico’s latest musical brings the man roaring back to life (and in an Elizabethan accent!)

The show features book, music, and lyrics by Michael Shaw Fisher and musical accompaniment by Alistair Cooper on guitar and Allison Sulock on dulcimer, recorder, ukulele, and percussion. It also reunites Fisher with director, Jeff Sumner, who also played “Possessed Girl” in the Sacred Fools Spotlight extension of Exorcistic in 2013.

June 7 – 27, 2015
Three Clubs
1123 N Vine Street, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Tickets: $12 at or call (415) 994-4760

ISC’s Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival Opens June 25

ISC in the park2

Romeo & Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing will be the entertainment for a summer night in Griffith Park when Independent Shakespeare Co. opens its 2015 season of the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival on June 25.

Artistic Director Melissa Chalsma says, “Without a doubt, the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival is the highlight of our year. The audience brings such amazing joy and excitement, the park is a gorgeous refuge, and our company of artists is the strongest it’s ever been. It’s an honor to bring so many Angelenos together to experience wonderful theater!”

Managing Director David Melville adds, “Our production of Romeo & Juliet had a sell-out run in our Independent Studio at Atwater Crossing last spring – it was so special that we knew we wanted to share it with a larger audience. We are very excited to be bringing an expanded version of the production to Griffith Park this summer. Much Ado About Nothing is also one of our favorites. Since the last time we tackled it our audience has grown exponentially – in 2010, our first year in Griffith Park, we were excited to close with more than 600 people in the audience, now we average 1,100 individuals at each performance!”  More

A Post-Civil War America Sets the Stage for Theatricum’s As You Like It

Willow Geer (Rosalind) and Colin Simon (Orlando). Photo credit: Ian Flanders

Willow Geer (Rosalind) and Colin Simon (Orlando).

Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum kicks off its 2015 Americana season on Sunday, June 7 with an all-American staging of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, re-set in the divided South of the post-Civil War era and featuring traditional American folk music and dance from that period.

A tale about two sets of brothers — one alienated by ambition, the other estranged by envy — As You Like It is easily transposed to a time when our country was a house divided. Willow Geer stars as Rosalind, forced to flee camp when her uncle Frederick (Thad Geer), usurper of his brother’s position as a general in the Union army, threatens to have her killed. Accompanied by her cousin Celia (Elizabeth Tobias), Rosalind disguises herself as a man for safety’s sake. The disguise comes in handy when she tests the devotion of her noble admirer, Orlando (Colin Simon), on the run from his hostile older brother (Frank Wiedner). Meanwhile, the rebel camp is alive with music — banjo, guitar, ukulele, mandolin and more. With Rosalind’s wit leading the way, the forces of true love, justice and song eventually triumph.

“Re-setting the play just after the Civil War enlarges the scope,” say director Ellen Geer. “It heightens the point about brothers being pitted against brothers, and takes us to a deeper level.”  More

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