Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival Season Concludes with Richard III

Richard III - KingsmenThe 19th season of the Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival will conclude on a tragic note with Richard III. Performances run July 17 through August 2 in Kingsmen Park on the Thousand Oaks campus of California Lutheran University. Festival grounds open at 5:30 pm for picnicking and entertainment.

The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company last presented Richard III a decade ago. With Richard finally having been given an official burial in March after his long-lost body was unearthed and the popularity of the HBO series Game of Thrones, which is based on the Wars of the Roses, the time seemed right to revisit the play.

One of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, Richard III was written around 1592 about the final chapter in the Wars of the Roses. King Edward IV of the House of York sits on the throne unaware that his brother, Richard of Gloucester, has a Machiavellian passion to take the crown and will stop at nothing. Richard plots to eliminate everyone who gets in his way.

Cast members include several newcomers to the Kingsmen stage: Jason McBeth as Richard, Angela Sauer as Queen Elizabeth, Gillian Doyle as Margaret, Jamey Hecht as the Duke of Clarence and Seta Wainiqolo as Richmond. The cast will also include Rachel Seiferth as Lady Anne, Ross Hellwig as Buckingham, Marc Silver as Hastings and Harold Dixon as Stanley.

General admission is $20 for adults and free for those under 18. Individual tickets are available at the door only. For lawn box reservations, visit kingsmenshakespeare.org or call 805-493-3014.

Rebecca Taichman’s Ever-Evolving Relationship with Twelfth Night

An interview by guest writer Evan Henerson

When the subject is Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy Twelfth Night, the metaphors and analogies come easily to director Rebecca Taichman, who uses words like “epic,” “complex,” “Mozartian” and “perfect.”

“It’s truly bottomless,” she says. “I thought I knew everything about the play, and I just keep unpeeling layers.”

Rebecca Taichman directs The Old Globe's 2015 Summer Shakespeare Festival production of Twelfth Night, June 21 - July 26, 2015. Photo by Jim Cox.

She speaks from the experience of having already de-onioned quite a bit of the shenanigans of Viola, Orsino, Olivia and company. The production that opens this weekend to kick off the Old Globe’s 2015 Summer Shakespeare Festival is Taichman’s second go-round following a 2009 production at Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC which subsequently moved to the McCarter Theatre. Going back even further, Taichman played Viola as an undergraduate in a production at McGill University while still, in her words, “a pup.” Taichman, who had acting aspirations before turning to directing, does not give her rendition of Viola glowing reviews. “My memory of the experience is that I didn’t understand the play at all,” she says.

The 2009 production, on the other hand, took home glowing notices for both its performances and for its visual palate. The Old Globe opportunity came about after she was approached by the company’s Artistic Director Barry Edelstein who had seen the Shakespeare Theatre/McCarter production and inquired if Taichman was up for reimagining it for an outdoor staging at the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre.

Taichman was eager to reexamine and reconnect. “I think there’s a similar heart and it’s told from a similar point of view (as the previous production),” she says, “but it’s also extremely different. The first step was a conversation with the design team on how we could make what we did better and really maximize the outdoor space.”  More

SOC Will Create One Big Family Under the Stars with Romeo and Juliet

SOC Romeo and Juliet

Ramón de Ocampo and Nikki SooHoo

For its first production of Summerfest 2015, Shakespeare Orange County (SOC) applies its theme of uniting ‘One Big Family Under the Stars’ to Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s romantic drama of star-crossed lovers separated by irreconcilable families. Romeo and Juliet will open on July 11, with a special Night in White pre-show dinner package available, and continue through August 1.

Romeo and Juliet, arguably western literature’s most famous love story, was written early in Shakespeare’s career and, along with Hamlet, remains his most frequently performed play. It has inspired art in every media, including Franco Zefferelli’s 1968 film version, which will screen at the amphitheater on June 27.

When producing artistic director John Walcutt took over the 36-year-old company in 2014, it was with a pledge to use Orange County’s centrally located amphitheater to build bridges between generations and across the more than 70 languages spoken in the community.

“Shakespeare’s script shows how a community can be fragmented by hostility and ignorance,” said Walcutt, who co-directs with associate artistic director Mike Peebler. “Our production shows how a community can come together through artistic endeavor.”  More

The Eclectic Company Theatre Presents RICHARD III Beginning July 24

Richard III is one of the most coveted roles in Shakespearean literature. Shakespeare’s play recounts how Richard ascended to the throne and consolidated his power largely by accomplishing the murder of his perceived political adversaries, including members of his own family, in a story that resonates as surprisingly modern.

Director Natasha Troop describes the design elements of the current production as a mash-up of the futuristic and 1930s-era retro, highlighting both the elegance of life at court and the coldness of the Plantagenet feud.

The cast includes Jon Mullich as Richard and Jesse Merlin as Buckingham, with Christian Chan, Alon Dina, Melody Doyle, Carissa Gipprich, Rachel Kanouse, Jessicah Neufeld, David Pinion, Tim Polzin, Glenn Simon, Janie Steele, Randi Tahara, Gary Tremble, Eliot Troop, Micah Watterson and Nathan Werner. Costume Design is by Wendell C. Carmichael and fight choreography: Christian Chan. Richard III is produced by Natasha Troop and Marni Troop.

RICHARD III
July 24- August 30, 2015
The Eclectic Company Theatre
5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd.
Valley Village, CA 91607
Tickets: (818) 508-3003 or www.eclecticcompanytheatre.org

Fringe Review: Bright Swords, Very Highly Recommended

Bright Swords

Bright Swords has three essential elements that make it one of the most polished, intelligent, and satisfying productions at Fringe: an elegant performance by Ryan Vincent Anderson, a beautifully written, smart, funny, human script by playwright Rick Creese, and stylish, impeccably focused direction by director Jeffrey Wienckowski.

Alone on stage, Anderson takes the audience through the challenges and triumphs of one of the most important but little-known early actors of the theatre. Ira Aldridge was the first African American to play Othello on a London stage at a time when actors of color were often nothing more than figures to be laughed at. His determination to portray his characters as men rather than stereotypes was revolutionary in the 19th century. He challenged prejudices by remaining true to his artistic heart, declaring he was the best case for abolition and wouldn’t have it any other way.  More

Cornerstone Theater Company’s Historic Tour Returns Home

CALIFORNIA - THE TEMPEST - 1

Cornerstone Theater Company returns home to Los Angeles with a Sunset Celebration of California: The Tempest, an evening of theater under the stars June 18 – 20 in Downtown Los Angeles’ beautiful Grand Park. This celebratory event will be the culmination of the company’s California Bridge Tour, a yearlong statewide touring production of California: The Tempest and their final performances with a breathtaking view of downtown Los Angeles.

In California: The Tempest, “What’s past is prologue,” as playwright Alison Carey’s adaptation of The Tempest meets California’s challenges head-on in this traveling experience that conjures love, disaster, revenge, forgiveness & music (all that you would expect from Shakespeare!); mixed with earthquakes, drought, overdevelopment, food equity, state politics, fracking and immigration policy (all that you would expect from California!) as Prosper, her daughter Minerva, her servant Caliban and Californians from across the state yearn to find the commonality in our diversity and imagine a healthy and inclusive future for California. Don’t miss this very special event.

CALIFORNIA: THE TEMPEST
Written by Alison Carey
Directed by Michael John Garces
Final Performances: June 18 – 20, 2015
Grand Park in Downtown Los Angeles
Performances are Free
For more information call 1-800-578-1335
Cornerstonetheatre.org

Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival Opens w/ Punk Fairy Tale Romeo & Juliet

Erica Soto and Nikhil Pai. Photo credit: Mike Ditz

Erika Soto and Nikhil Pai as Romeo & Juliet. Photo credit: Mike Ditz

This summer Independent Shakespeare Co. presents its imaginative and soul-stirring take on the most famous love story of all time, Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, directed by Independent Shakespeare Co.’s Artistic Director Melissa Chalsma. Romeo & Juliet is the first of two productions being presented at this year’s Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival. Much Ado About Nothing will play July 30 – August 30. Best of all, ISC Summer Shakespeare productions are FREE to the public!

Adolescent bliss spins out of control in an imaginative adaptation that incorporates an original rock score and design that is equal parts fairy tale and punk. Erika Soto and Nikhil Pai (in the title roles) lead a cast of ISC’s most popular performers. They combine the textual clarity ISC is known for with a passionate and athletic physicality to create a Romeo & Juliet that explodes off the Griffith Park stage.  More

Love Labours Won has its U.S. Premiere at the Hollywood Fringe Festival

Love Labours Won

Rogue Shakespeare® (theatre company) makes its long-awaited U.S. premiere of celebrated poet Ryan J-W Smith’s award-winning third verse play, Love Labours Won at the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival. Love Labours Won is an original, comedic Shakespearean pastiche written entirely in Elizabethan-style rhyming iambic verse and one of the most acclaimed plays ever to come out of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It was Pick of the Fringe two years running; garnered multiple 4 and 5 star reviews, an Arts Council England award, and played to packed houses.

Smith directs and stars in the 65-minute production, which also features a cast of six international actors including Seth Leslie, Carol Vandegrift, Cameran Surles, James Hansen, Stephen Tyler Howell, and Elyse Sharp, at the newly renamed Acme Theatre on Hollywood Theatre Row. And, according to press materials, the audience will be treated to free organic chocolate at every performance…(perhaps in anticipation of a sweet ending?)

Ryan J-W Smith is a world-renowned British poet, playwright, director, producer, actor and filmmaker. He has written 4 critically acclaimed plays in rhyming iambic verse, over 1280 (and counting) Shakespearean Sonnets, was nominated for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award and is currently completing his debut feature documentary 2plus2makes4 starring himself, Emmy and Golden Globe winner Ed Asner, Tony-nominated Daniel Sunjata, Professor Noam Chomsky and the late Emmy-nominated Gore Vidal. Smith’s previous films have received over 25 film festival selections, nominations and wins.

LOVE LABOURS WON
June 19 – 27, 2015
Rogue Shakespeare
Acme Theatre
6470 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90038
Tickets: http://hff15.org/2653

Ophelia’s Jump Opens Midsummer Shakespeare Festival with Twelfth Night

Ophelia's Jump 2015
Ophelia’s Jump Productions will open its annual Midsummer Shakespeare Festival on July 16 with Twelfth Night, followed by Titus Andronicus the following night. Performances of both shows will continue running in rep through July 26 at Pomona College’s Sontag Greek Theatre, an outdoor amphitheater originally built in 1910 and renovated in 1997. The productions are directed respectively by co-founder Caitlin Lopez with Jenny Powell and founding artistic director, Beatrice Casagran.

Twelfth Night begins with shipwrecked twins, Viola and Sebastian. Believing her brother drowned and determined to survive alone, Viola disguises herself as a boy, Cesario, and enters the service of Orsino. Orsino sends Cesario to woo Olivia on his behalf. But Olivia becomes more interested in Cesario than Orsino and the play becomes a a merry-go-round of mistaken identities, high comedy, low tricks and desperate passion.

In Titus Andronicus, a veteran general and war hero returns to the city after a period of bloody conflicts with the Goths. Titus plans to bury several of his sons who have been killed in the conflict and spend his retirement with his remaining family including his only daughter, Lavinia. However, his unwillingness to depart from the dictates of the law and show compassion for a vanquished enemy, incites the ire of the defeated Queen of the Goths and initiates a vortex of revenge that ultimately swallows them all.

On Saturdays and Sundays, arrive early and enjoy local musicians, artists, and crafts before the show beginning at 5:30 pm. Each performance opens with a 30-minute Green Show. Bring a picnic and blanket or cushion for added comfort. Tickets and more information: www.opheliasjump.org.

Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival Presents Measure for Measure for the First Time

Measure-for-MeasureThis summer, the Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival at California Lutheran University will feature Measure for Measure for the first time in its 19 years, directed by Michael J. Arndt. First staged in 1604, the play reflects important issues in Shakespeare’s day including immorality and accompanying diseases, the rise of a conservative Puritan movement and mistrust of rulers. Though it contains many comic scenes and characters, the play deals with the darker issues of retribution, justice and mercy.

The Kingsmen production is set in the Montmartre district of Paris in the late 1890s. The political atmosphere in Paris was sharply divided between an ultraconservative Christian faction on the right and a socialist faction on the left. The artists and other residents of the Montmartre were held in poor regard although many of the wealthy bourgeois visited the prostitutes and clubs like the Moulin Rouge. The Kingsmen play will begin with a Moulin Rouge-type show featuring cancan dancers.  More

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