Happy Holidays from Shakespeare in LA

Shakespeare in LA will be on holiday hiatus until December 15.
Here’s wishing you a safe and restful holiday season.

Want to be Part of The Global Hamlet?

Global Hamlet

The Global Hamlet Project will officially launch in April 2015 and you’ll be reading about it here on Shakespeare in LA in the coming months. What is The Global Hamlet? Born from the concept of collective intelligence, The Global Hamlet (defined “groundbreaking” by Shakespearean actor Ben Crystal and “wonderful” by Michael Dobson, director of the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-upon-Avon) will be the first people’s edition of a literary work ever made; it will be the whole world translating, annotating and illustrating Shakespeare’s Hamlet in many languages through the internet.

Project participants will be invited to help annotate Shakespeare’s Hamlet not only with text, but also with traditional images and videos of the play, and to illustrate its scenes through drawings and clips. Everyone can participate, under the supervision of expert Shakespearean editors, with the intent to create from the ground up the highest quality edition of Hamlet written by the people.

There will be many ways to become part of the project. The first is for participants to submit a recording of themselves saying “I am Hamlet.” Easy, right? Men, women, young and old, are all invited to participate in this video. More

City Shakespeare Company’s Family Un-Friendly Twelfth Night Opens Dec. 5

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Bullying, pot smoking, heavy drinking and sexual innuendo will color The City Shakespeare Company’s no-holds-barred approach to Twelfth Night. The family un-friendly production will open in downtown Santa Monica on Friday, December 5. Opening night will feature red carpet arrivals at 7:30 pm and wine followed by the performance at 8:00 pm.

Normally considered a family favorite, City Shakes is taking a raucous look at the famous text. “I feel like we’re tackling a tacky, zany play that is anything but family-friendly,” states Brooke Bishop, co-artistic director of the company and director of this production. “The tacky vice land of Illyria feels relevant, especially in a world that suppresses those things and tells everyone to be polite.”

The production features fight choreography by company member David Hartstone (who also plays Orsino in this production). “It’s super fun; we’re laughing our butts off in rehearsal,” says Colin Martin, the company technical director and actor playing Sir Toby Belch. “We’re really trying to cram as many laughs in as possible and honor the notion that this is the funniest of Shakespeare’s comedies.”

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December 5 – 20, 2014
Doors open at 7:30 pm
1454 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
There is plenty of metered street parking.
Tickets are $34.99 at http://cityshakes.brownpapertickets.com/
For more information, please visit www.CityShakes.org.

First Person: Mel Ryane Shares Her Thoughts About “Teaching Will”

By Mel Ryane

Why Shakespeare?

I was recently asked why I thought that teaching little kids to tackle the works of William Shakespeare would be a swell idea. And why did I write a book about it? And what was that like?

In King Lear, Shakespeare places his protagonist in the torrents of a colossal storm. The withered King bellows in rage as he is battered by wind and rain, his voice drowned by thunder, his body lit by flashes of lightning. It is here that Lear meets both his inner and outer demons. The scene is one of reckoning and is a most beautiful metaphor for any of us attempting to manage the tricky business being a person.

Here are two things I know:

1. Nothing worth doing is easy.
2. Nobody gets the life they thought they wanted.  More

Book Review: Mel Ryane’s Funny, Touching Memoir TEACHING WILL

Teaching Will

A Guest Review by Emily Rome

Having a friend who’s a teacher or a parent and also a talented storyteller is a great gift; you know you’re always in for some good stories about kiddos when you’re with this friend. That’s how Mel Ryane’s memoir, Teaching Will, feels – like she’s a friend animatedly telling you charming stories of her classroom while you catch up during brunch. But the book is also packed with enough smart structure and language to be a story that’s a pleasure to read, rather than simply hear over coffee.

Teaching Will: What Shakespeare and 10 Kids Gave Me That Hollywood Couldn’t is Ryane’s hilarious and touching tale of her time leading a Shakespeare Club at a Title 1 elementary school in Los Angeles. With a background in acting and dialogue coaching but not teaching full classrooms of children, Ryane started the club when a flyer on her doorstep pleaded for volunteers to help at the local elementary school.

It’s a book that teachers, parents, actors, child psychologists (Ryane shares fascinating looks into the minds of these kids) and, of course, lovers of Shakespeare will enjoy, especially anyone who had the joy of discovering Shakespeare as a child and wants to relive that discovery.  More

Southern California Shakespeare Companies Celebrate the Holidays

Get ready for a healthy dose of holiday cheer from your favorite Los Angeles Shakespeare companies! Here are a few of the ways you can celebrate with your favorites this Christmas season.

TB Old fashioned xmas

Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum’s will hold an Olde Fashioned Yuletide Celebration on Saturday, Dec. 13 at 6:00 pm. Festivities include carol singing, sweet and savory goodies, silent auction, holiday libations, an artisan gift shop, a visit from Father Christmas, the story of “St George and the Dragon,” and a reading of Leo Tolstoy’s holiday story “What We Live By” by special guest Amy Madigan. All proceeds benefit educational programming at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum. The event will take place at Topanga Mountain Mermaid (Parking at Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd. with shuttle service to the venue). Tickets are $200 and all proceeds benefit Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum. A portion of the ticket is tax-deductible. Call (310) 455-3723 for tickets or visit www.theatricum.com.

A Christmas Carol With Charles Dickens - ISCOver in Atwater Village in the ISC Studio, Independent Shakespeare Co. recreates (with a little artistic license) the experience of a public reading of A Christmas Carol With Charles Dickens given by Dickens himself. Based on the novelist’s own adaptation, it is performed by ISC co-founder David Melville as Charles Dickens, playing nearly every character in the story with musical accompaniment and dramatic interjections by a young American actress, Miss Aks. Expect a performance full of the acting pyrotechnics Dickens was famous for, holiday music, wry humor, and redemption.Performances are Dec. 6, 13 & 20. Tickets: www.iscla.org. There will also be one performance of A Christmas Carol With Charles Dickens across town at the Geffen Playhouse on Monday, Dec. 1 at 7:00 pm. Click Here for tickets.

ANW Christmas carolA Noise Within continues their family holiday tradition with Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Dec. 5 – 23. Directed by Geoff Elliott (who adapted the play from the novella) and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, the production also features evocative original music by Ego Plum. The cast includes Geoff Elliott as Scrooge, with Freddy Douglas, Stephen Rockwell, Rafael Goldstein, Jill Hill, Mitchell Edmonds, Deborah Strang, Alan Blumenfeld, Alison Elliott, Georgia Miller, Jack Elliott, Marie Sullivan, Ikenna Ogbogu, Chiza Ogbogo, and Seven Pierce-English. Tickets: (626) 356-3100 or www.anoisewithin.org. There will also be a Pay What You Will performance on Wednesday, Dec. 17.

“Remounting our acclaimed presentation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol allows families to once again take a supremely theatrical journey, and celebrate the transformative power of forgiveness during the holidays,” says Elliott. Rodriguez-Elliott adds, “Ebenezer Scrooge’s rebirth from miserly curmudgeon to the epitome of love and generosity affirms our faith in the potent goodness of human kind during this beloved time of year.”

Long Beach Shakespeare - Christmas CarolLong Beach Shakespeare Company will present Orson Welles’ radio adaptation of A Christmas Carol on Dec 19, 20 & 21. Mike Austin returns as Scrooge in LBSC’s annual presentation of the 1939 radio adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The live web-cast features sound effects and music performed by the actors. Also for the holidays the company will offer The Plot to Overthrow Christmas, a fully-costumed, staged version of the original 1938 radio play by Norman Corwin. Featuring colorful characters such as Mephistopheles (the Devil), Lucrezia Borgia, Caligula, Ivan the Terrible, Simon Legree and Nero, and other fiends in Hades, it concerns a plot to murder Santa Claus and destroy Christmas forever. Nov. 28 – Dec. 14. For tickets and more information visit www.lbshakespeare.org.

And for regular Shakespearean fare, two companies will offer productions of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night this December:

City Shakespeare Company, December 5 – 20 at their performance space located at 1454 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401. www.CityShakes.org

Los Angeles Drama Club, December 6 – 14 at the Lyric Theatre, 520 N. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036. www.losangelesdramaclub.com

Further south:

Every Christmas StoryShakespeare in the Vines will present Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some) by Michael Carleton, John K. Alvarez, and Jim FitzGerald, Dec. 4 – 13 performed inside Carol’s Restaurant at Baily Vineyard and Winery in Temecula. Three actors decide that instead of doing Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol again, they’ll perform every Christmas story ever told. They take holiday cheer to the extreme with a fast and furious look at the holiday classics and traditions we all know and love. No holiday icon is spared in this tour de farce of hilarious holiday merriment, from Tiny Tim, Frosty, and Rudolph to the Grinch and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Seating begins at 5:30 pm for dinner (Friday and Saturday night performances only); 6:00 pm for show only. Dining reservations must be made through Carol’s Restaurant by calling (951) 676-9243. On the menu: Winter Salad of baby mixed greens, sliced pears, candied walnuts, blue cheese and citrus vinaigrette, slow roasted boneless short rib, horseradish mashed potatoes, winter vegetable medley, pumpkin cake with Riesling caramel sauce and whipped cream, and your choice of a 2012 Montage or 2010 Sangiovese wine.

Burke MosesAnd at The Old Globe, everyone’s favorite green meanie will return for his 17th consecutive year in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the heartwarming musical based on the classic book and animated film. James Vásquez returns to direct this beloved San Diego holiday tradition which will run Nov. 15 – Dec. 27. Burke Moses makes his Old Globe debut as The Grinch with Taylor Coleman and Gabriella Dimmick alternating in the role of Cindy-Lou and Steve Gunderson returning as Old Max. Tickets: (619) 23-GLOBE or www.TheOldGlobe.org.

First Look: A Gender-Reversed R&J from Mine is Yours Theatre Company

R&J - Mine is Yours

Paul Turbiak as Julian, Mary Ellen Schneider as Romea and Cindy Kania

R&J, Mine is Yours Theatre Company’s gender-reversed Romeo and Juliet directed by Abby Craden will run for one more weekend, through November 16 at Theatre of NOTE in Hollywood. The cast includes Alan Blumenfeld (Nurse), Hayley Brown (Paris), Charles M. Howell IV (Capulet’s Husband), Katherine James (Capulet), Cynthia Kania (Sister Laurence), Wendy Pigott (Montague and Apothecary), Hannah Pell (Benvolia), Taylor Jackson Ross (Mercutia), Mary Ellen Schneider (Romea), Caitlin Stegemoller (Princess), Paul Turbiak (Julian), and Sarah Kay Watson (Tybalt).

R&J - Mine is Yours

Cindy Kania, Mary Ellen Schneider, and Alan Blumenfeld

R&J - Mine is Yours

Katherine James and Sarah Kay Watson


Aquila Theatre Brings The Tempest to Valley Performing Arts Center

Aquila Tempest

On Sunday, November 16 the Aquila Theatre will bring its innovative style and dynamic physical approach to Shakespeare’s magical tale of forgiveness and enlightenment to Valley Performing Arts Center.

Believed to be Shakespeare’s final play, The Tempest is imbued with magic, the supernatural, and a heightened sense of theatricality. Prospero, the Duke of Milan, has been usurped and exiled by his own brother. He is stranded on a remote and mystical island with his daughter Miranda who has been on the island from a very young age. Hoping to restore Miranda to her rightful place, and to seek revenge, Prospero conjures a storm to shipwreck his brother and those who conspired against him. The beautiful Miranda falls in love with Ferdinand, son of one of the conspirators, putting her relationship with Prospero to the test just as retribution is finally within reach.

With an ensemble of superb performers and Aquila’s exhilarating execution, this new production of The Tempest is sure to delight.

Aquila Theatre at Valley Performing Arts Center
Plaza del Sol Concert Hall
Sunday, November 16, 2014 at 3:00 pm
Click Here for tickets and more information

Review: The Illyrian Players Take on OTHELLO

Othello - Illyrian Players
This isn’t the first time the Illyrian Players have taken on Shakespeare. In 2011, the company began its provocative theatrical conversation about gender and sex with Twelfth Night, and since then has given LA a BDSM version of The Taming of the Shrew and a gender reversed Macbeth. In addition to Shakespeare, they have produced a number of new plays; bold, edgy works that set them apart from other theatre companies, led by a vision that sees theatre as “a subversive art form with which to change the world.”

Director Carly D. Weckstein and company now turn their eyes to Shakespeare’s tragedy, Othello, in an exploration of how betrayal, deceit, jealousy, and racism can deeply affect the psyche. The concept is modern and gritty; an expansive black and white world compressed into a small black box theatre with a single striking image on the back wall, conjured as if it were a ghost moon over the River Styx. Indeed, it does at times feel like the devil himself is watching over this tale, sending his masked demons – quite literally – to influence the characters from the shadowland.  More

8 x 10: A Free Evening of Short Plays at Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles

ICS logoInner City Shakespeare Ensemble will present a free evening of short works at Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles on Nov. 14 & 15. The five-year-old not-for-profit ensemble partners veteran theatre professionals with young artists of all ethnicities, usually to perform Shakespeare, however this event will feature new works. This evening of plays is produced by Paul Heller. ISCE’s artistic director is Melanie Andrews. Among the plays are:

Romeo and Juliet- Sped Up!
Written by Hannah Thomas. Directed by Emma Yang. Based on Shakespeare’s tragedy, this version in Modern English transpires in a compact eight minutes. Featuring Izabella Paz, Owen Yang, Thomas Carlton, Jazmin Pollinger, Paul Heller, Juvanie Hildreth, Erin McLaughlin, Stephanie Huerta, and David Mosseri.

The Far Away Daughter of Athens
Written by August Schulenberg. Directed by Thomas Carlton. This is a conversation between two of Shakespeare’s Athenian characters, Egeus and Demetrius, who have been captured by the Amazons and taken as prisoners during the Athenian War. Alone on stage, they reminisce about who they miss back home. For Egeus, it is his daughter, Hermia. Demetrius is interrupted too soon by a harsh sound, but as A Midsummer Night’s Dream would have it, we understand a little more why Egeus would have Demetrius marry his daughter when they’re back home in Athens. Featuring Thomas Carlton and Milton Lazaro.  More

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