Shakespeare’s Legacy Lives on in Inner City Youth – Part II

In Part II of my feature honoring William Shakespeare on his 450th birthday, I ask the young actors of Inner City Shakespeare Ensemble what they think of Shakespeare’s plays. Some of their answers may surprise you. They are a wonderful group of young professionals who will be presenting A Midsummer Night’s Dream throughout L.A. in the coming weeks in locations like Ladera Park, Grand Park, Third Street Promenade, Monteith Park and Athens Park. Bring your family and catch a free performance near you.

ICSE Oberon and Titania
I spoke to two alumni who are returning for Midsummer and asked about their first impressions of Shakespeare and why they keep coming back. Juvanie Hildreth, a football player from South Central, says that studying Shakespeare has been “a great learning experience” for him.  More

Shakespeare’s Legacy Lives on in Inner City Youth – Part I

I recently spent a day with the youth of Inner City Shakespeare Ensemble and was so impressed by their dedication and love of language that I decided this was the way I would celebrate William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday; by sharing the thoughts of the young actors, mentors and leaders that make up this unique theatre company.

I don’t know if Mr. Shakespeare ever dreamed that his writing would live on to the extent that it has, but I do think he would have been proud to see the effect his words have on young people today.

The program is led by three loyal board members: Dr. Melanie Andrews, Paul Heller, and Katy Haber, who are the heart and soul of Inner City Shakespeare and they are in the spotlight in Part I of  Shakespeare’s Legacy. You can read what the kids had to say in Part II. Happy Birthday W.S.

Dr. AndrewsSLA: Dr. Andrews, as the director and deputy chair, it pretty much all starts with you. Why do you love this program?

Dr. Andrews: Well, first of all, I love Shakespeare. I grew up in Compton and I was sick a lot as a child so I had a lot of home schooling. My mom was brilliant and my grandma sent me all the great books. That was their way to keep me on track. My mom used to read Shakespeare to me and that’s how I became a really good reader. I loved the stories. I loved the universality of it.  More

Audition Update: Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival

Oregon Shakespeare Festival will hold Los Angeles Equity Principal Auditions for 2015 Company Members on April 24 from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 West Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016. Non-AEA will be seen as time permits. Unless specified, the roles in all of the plays are open to performers of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, as well as actors with disabilities, and all are encouraged to attend. Please prepare two brief contrasting monologues: one Shakespeare and one contemporary. Those who wish to sing may replace a monologue with a short song. If you plan to sing, please bring sheet music – accompanist provided may not transpose. Please bring one picture & resume stapled together. The season includes Much Ado About Nothing, Antony and Cleopatra, Pericles, The Count of Monte Cristo, Guys and Dolls, Fingersmith, Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Sweat, Cynthia, Head Over Heels, and one play TBA. For more information, go to or

Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival will hold auditions on Saturday May 17 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm for its Shakespeare in the Park production of Cymbeline. Auditions are by appointment only. Actors are asked to submit a picture and resume to and will receive a confirmation with their audition time and location. Please prepare a 2-minute Shakespearean monologue. Preference will be given to actors with theatrical training and experience, experience with Shakespeare text, and experience performing in an outdoor venue. All roles are open. There will be some double casting and possible cross-casting. Cymbeline is directed by Erin McBride Africa. Assistant director is Luck Hari. The Shakespeare in the Park series is part of the LA SummerFest, an eclectic theatre and music festival serving the entire North Los Angeles County region. new festival of theatre and music under the stars at the Rivendale Park in Towsley Canyon. Performances take place at Rivendale/Towsley Canyon Park. For more information, go to

Friday Fun with Shakespeare from TEDx

The hip-hop of Shakespeare: MC Lars at TEDxUSC

His examples are pretty interesting – rapping the witches from Macbeth, Edgar Allen Poe, and connecting youth with literature in a relatable way. Enjoy.


Celebrating Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday!

How are YOU celebrating Shakespeare’s 450th birthday? If you haven’t made plans, check out how some of our local theatre companies are honoring Sir William and join in!

“…there was a star danced, and under that was I born.”  –Much Ado About Nothing

On the big day, April 23, be on the lookout for the Salty Shakespeare folks who will be doing a flash mob run-through all over the campus of Whittier College. Be especially observant in the lunchroom where, rumor has it, Polonius will be killed. The dress-run is in preparation for a full flash of what the company affectionately calls “Hamlet’s Greatest Hits” that will take place the next day.

Also on the 23rd, Long Beach Shakespeare Company will celebrate by presenting a night of Shakespeare sonnets, with everyone in attendance receiving a book of the complete sonnets as a free gift.

The comedy series Complete Works will premiere all five of its episodes on Hulu on Shakespeare’s birthday, April 23.  More

A Noise Within Announces REVOLUTIONARY 2014-15 Season

A Noise Within

A Noise Within, led by producing artistic directors Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, announces its 23rd season of classic theater in Southern California. Informed by the climate of social and economic upheaval in which we live, the season’s theme – reflected in a kaleidoscopic palette of plays – is REVOLUTION.

“We have always crafted overarching themes for our repertory seasons,” says Geoff Elliott, “but none has presented itself as organically and viscerally as this year’s.” Julia Rodriguez-Elliott reinforces this notion, adding, “In many ways, the idea of REVOLUTION had entered our collective consciousness in ways that all but dared us not to embrace it. As a director, I am especially energized by the concept of ‘disorderly conduct’ – both because it appears as a theme in every one of these plays, and because wherever we look, it is rearing its head in the forms of civic, social, and political unrest.” The company’s revolutionary season will include: More

Review: Independent Shakespeare Co. Intimately Envisions Romeo and Juliet

ISC - Romeo and Juliet

Nikhil Pai and Erika Soto. Photo credit: Grettel Cortes

Independent Shakespeare Co. once again showcases its intuitive ability to reimagine Shakespeare for a modern-day audience with an intimate production of his classic romance, Romeo and Juliet. The culturally diverse troupe is adept at creating user-friendly Shakespeare that everyone can understand, whether they are playing to a thousand or more in Griffith Park each summer, or to those that come for an intimate experience in their experimental Atwater Village Studio, or even to an impromptu audience at site-specific locations like The Huntington where they performed Shakespeare in the Garden this past weekend.  [See Huntington photos HERE]

In all of these cases, they have a gift for making the text lift off the page within a creative context that is as unique as it is memorable. That picture, of words blowing off the page like a child blows the seeds from a dandelion in summer, is marvelously employed in Romeo and Juliet as the familiar tale is freshly spun by director Melissa Chalsma and eight inventive actors.  More

National Theatre’s OTHELLO Receives Screening at UCLA

Britweek Othello screeningL.A. Theatre Works and BritWeek LA will screen the National Theatre’s production of Othello, broadcast in HD, at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater on May 4 at 2:00 pm. The event is part of BritWeek LA’s 2014 schedule of events.

Olivier Award-winning actors Adrian Lester (Henry V at the National Theatre) and Rory Kinnear (The Last of the Haussmans, James Bond: Skyfall), star as Othello and Iago, respectively, directed by Nicholas Hytner (Timon of Athens, One Man, Two Guvnors).

In Shakespeare’s play, Othello, newly married to Desdemona, is appointed leader of a major military operation. Iago, passed over for promotion by Othello in favor of the young Cassio, persuades Othello that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair. The screening will take place at the James Bridges Theater, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, 235 Charles E. Young Drive in Los Angeles, 90095. Tickets are $20 for regular seating; $25 for premium seating; and $10 for students with valid student ID. (310) 827-0889 or

Celebrating Shakespeare’s Birthday with a New Comedy Series on Hulu

Complete Works, an independently-produced comedy series about a collegiate Shakespeare competition will premiere all five of its new episodes – House of Cards style – on Hulu April 23rd, coinciding with Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday. The half-hour comedy series follows Hal, a naive Shakespeare-obsessed Midwesterner, who makes it to the final round of the American Shakespeare Competition only to discover that even theater geeks can be cutthroat.

From first time writer-directors Joe Sofranko and Adam North, it was created and produced by Sofranko, North, and Lili Fuller with their production company, Kingdom for a Horse Productions. So, how did the three meet?  More

Shakespeare Extempore Combines Cinematic Elements with Improv

Shakespeare Extempore

IO West returns with its next main stage performance of Shakespeare Extempore on Friday, April 18 at iO West Theater in Hollywood. The non-traditional improv group uses cinematic soundscapes, and improvised movie and scene painting techniques to put on a completely unique Shakespearean performance through the lens of various genre and director styles.

“The concept for the show came from our desire to explore what you don’t get to see from Shakespeare on stage that you do see on film: the battle scenes, the murders, the sexuality, the intricate offstage events which are referenced but not enacted,” says director Jason Murphy.

“We also wanted to capitalize on improv’s ability to create any landscape and setting for environments with complex, complimentary soundtracking and lighting. You can experience a tragedy in a dystopian futuristic Rome or a history set in the 1930′s Depression Era. We use a vast array of pre-scored music/soundscapes to underscore scenes which heighten the cinematic feel of the performance in the particular genre.

The show is designed specifically to combine Shakespeare’s language and storytelling with cinema’s infinite imagination. We also incorporate the sense of exploration and play in a way that keep it firmly planted in the improv style audience’s expect from iO.”

The cast of Shakespeare Extempore includes Jason Murphy, Sean Cowhig, Lauren Pritchard, Derek Mears, Scott Palmason, Ryan Marsico, Alexis Simpson, Kelly Vrooman and Justin Michael Terry. Click Here for tickets ($10) or call (323) 962-7560. IO West is located at 6366 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028. For more information, visit

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