Santa Monica Filmmaker Goes International with OTHELLO Adaptation

Othello city shakes
Congratulations to City Shakespeare Company co-founder Allison Volk whose short film adaptation of Othello, which she produced with Loyola Marymount University professor and director, Mikael Kruzriegler has been accepted into the Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespeare Film Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon. Othello will premiere in England on November 6, 2014. The festival is sponsored by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, dedicated to preserving Shakespeare’s home town.

“It feels like a good omen that this news came right at this time,” says Volk. “As artists, we’re always asking ourselves if what we’re doing is hitting the mark. This is like a little gift of validation, and that always feels nice.”

Volk is currently in Niwot, Colorado filming her first feature length film, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth which features a script co-written by her City Shakes co-artistic director Brooke Bishop that takes place on one night in the Macbeth household; the night the king is murdered.

For more information about the second annual Shakespeare Film Festival, visit http://filmingshakespeare.com/

Interview: Allison Volk and City Shakes Ponder “To Live or Die” in Life and Art

On Friday, July 11th, The City Shakespeare Company will open a gritty production of Romeo & Juliet that asks: What would you die for? Allison Volk, co-founder of City Shakes who also plays Lady Capulet and Benvolio in the production, offered these thoughts on the subject by members of her company.

What Would You Die For?
By Allison Volk

I asked some of the major players in our production the same question; not what would their characters die for, but what would THEY, the actor, die for? Initially I assumed that everyone would have the same obvious answer, but when I pulled people aside, I suddenly saw how intimately personal the question actually is.  More

City Shakes Produces Macbeth Film Adaptation, The Heat of Deeds

Heat of Deeds city shakes
The City Shakespeare Company invites you to a staged reading of their latest project on May 22nd; a feature film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth titled The Heat of Deeds, currently scheduled to shoot in Boulder, Colorado in September.

“This script is something brand new; it is a hybridization of classic Shakespearean text and modern American English,” says Allison Volk, City Shakes co-founder who wrote the screenplay and is slated to play Katherine, the Lady Macbeth character.

Volk has been recognized for her writing in previous years. In 2013 she won the California Film Award for her short film, Last Ditch Therapy, and earlier this year her full-length play, Rite of Seymour, was produced in East Los Angeles by Drive Theatre Company.

“People will either really, really love it, or really, really hate it,” laughs Brooke Bishop, co-founder of City Shakes and Heat of Deeds director. Both women are excited to share this new project with the community and welcome creative feedback.

“It’s a process,” says Volk, “and we’re all about the journey.”

The Heat of Deeds staged reading will take place at 8 pm on Thursday, May 22nd at 1454 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401. There is plenty of free street parking after 6 pm. Admission is free, but please RSVP to CityShakes@gmail.com to reserve a seat. For more information, visit www.CityShakes.org.

Review: City Shakes Offers a Milder Version of The Merchant of Venice

City Shakes - Merchant of Venice

Front: Allison Volk and David Hartstone. Back: Mallory Wedding, Frank Weidner and David Landberg.

The young, relatively new, City Shakespeare Company is offering a 90-minute modern take on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice now through April 12, but the well-intentioned effort produces mixed results. Any abbreviated adaptation of Shakespeare’s text runs the risk of eliminating moments that show the full colors of his characters but director Brooke Bishop not only edits out much of the conflict and harsh reality of the play, she reduces her characters to types, and the villain Shylock to what feels like a secondary role. The play may be called The Merchant of Venice but it is the moneylender that Shakespeare uses to teach his audience a lesson and without his passion and pain, the story’s impact is marginalized.

Gone is the cultural insight into Antonio (Todd Elliott) and his friends’ mistreatment of the Jew and many of the references that would explain why Shylock (Peter Nikkos) is so bitter and hard of heart. Gone too is the deeper motivation for Shylock’s daughter Jessica (the very sweet Megan Ruble) to run away from her father’s house and marry a Christian, which gives great insight into Shylock’s character. Some of the most eloquent passages have either been dropped to accommodate an actor who is in over his head, or are allowed to remain but are delivered with only the slightest understanding of the text.  More

City Shakes opens The Merchant of Venice with a Red Carpet Masquerade

The City Shakespeare Company is kicking off its 2014 season with a bash. The Santa Monica-based theater company is hosting a red carpet masquerade ball on opening night, Thursday, March 27. Theater-goers will enjoy Hollywood-style red carpet arrivals and complimentary wine starting at 7 pm, followed by a 90-minute performance of The Merchant of Venice. Dancing and prizes for the best masquerade costumes conclude the evening.

The company, which is currently housed in an early 20th century warehouse space located within walking distance of the 3rd Street Promenade, is aware of the controversy that follows this play and City Shakes’ co-artistic directors Allison Volk and Brooke Bishop welcome the challenge with open arms.

Bishop, who is directing the production says, “My hope is that people leave the theater asking questions. If this play sparks a dialogue, if you leave wondering not who was right and who was wrong, but rather if right and wrong even matter at all, I will be ecstatic, and know we’ve done something worth doing.”

Peter Nikkos takes on the role of Shylock adding, “There is Shylock in everyman; my humble goal is to show the audience the ‘everyman’ in Shylock.”

In addition to Nikkos, the cast will include Todd Elliott (Antonio), David Hartstone (Bassanio), Daniel Landberg (Troubadour), Gilbert Martinez (Clown), Frank Raducz Jr. (Lorenzo), Megan Ruble (Jessica), Allison Volk (Portia), Mallory Wedding (Nerissa) and Frank Weidner (Gratiano). City Shakes’ production is adapted and directed by Brooke Bishop and will feature original music written and performed by Daniel Landberg.

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE
March 27 – April 12, 2014
City Shakespeare Company
1454 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
There is plenty of free street parking after 6pm. Doors open at 7:30 pm.
Thursdays/Fridays/Saturdays at 8:00 pm. Sundays April 6 & 13 at 4:00 pm
Tickets ($20): www.brownpapertickets.com/event/583598
Thursdays, April 3 & 10 are pay-what-you-can at the door.
www.CityShakes.org

City Shakes’ Site-Specific MACBETH to Open on Halloween

City Shakes Macbeth2
The City Shakespeare Company has converted a warehouse unit to be its performance space for Macbeth opening October 31 at 8:00 pm. The space is located behind an empty art gallery at 1454 Lincoln Blvd. near downtown Santa Monica and the company will perform not in the round, but in a pentagon.

Allison Volk and Brooke Bishop, co-founders of the company, chose the location carefully. “All our shows are site-specific, meaning we choose the space according to what the text calls for. We wanted something raw to match the gut-wrenching subject matter,” says Volk, who plays Lady Macbeth.

City Shakes is an ensemble of seven actors whose goal is to use movement and sound to capture the essence of the text in a deeply visceral way. Each actor also plays multiple characters. Jose Espinosa (Banquo and the Porter) says, “This company is unique because we try out every idea, entertain many things, and we’re not afraid of transforming Shakespeare into something different and new and modern.”

Colin Martin, who plays the title role adds, “We’re holding a mirror up to the darker parts of human nature and inviting people to ask themselves some deep questions about hidden motivations: What would it take for you to kill? Do you have it in you?”

MACBETH
City Shakes
Oct. 31 – Nov. 22
1454 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Street parking is free after 6pm. Doors open at 7:30 pm.
Click Here for Tickets ($20)
More info: www.cityshakes.org

Join City Shakespeare Company for Macbeth: A Ceremony

City Shakes Macbeth workshopIn preparation for their fall 2013 run of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, The City Shakespeare Company (City Shakes) will spend Saturday August 3rd exploring the play through movement work, discussion, and an intimate exploration of the text. The workshop culminates in a free, public performance of their work at 6:00 pm.

“This workshop is designed to help our ensemble become more familiar with the essence of the story. We’re finding the ceremony of the play,” says Allison Volk, co-founder and City Shakes actress. She and seven collaborators will make up the day’s group.

“We’ll read, we’ll speak, we’ll play, move, act, create, and explore,” states Brooke Bishop, co-founder of the company and resident director. “And we can’t wait.”

Macbeth: A Ceremony is open and free to the public at 6:00 pm on Saturday, August 3rd at The Huffington Center, part of the St. Sophia Cathedral complex. 1324 S Normandie Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006. Parking is free. http://cityshakes.org/

City Shakes Brings Free Summer Shakespeare to West Los Angeles

As You Like It City Shakes
Bring your picnic, blanket, and the kids – Rustic Canyon Park is about to get a little more mischievous this summer, thanks to The City Shakespeare Company’s (City Shakes’) weekend performances of Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

Founded in 2012 by Brooke Bishop and Allison Volk, City Shakes is on a mission to bring together community members to enjoy classic theater in a fun, accessible way, and there’s no better venue than Rustic Canyon Park’s “little urban oasis,” as Bishop, the show’s director, calls it. “Working in and around the Rec Center, our thespian activities become an integral part of the community, rather than something tucked away in an isolated, windowless theater,” she says.  More

Audition Update: City Shakes and Sacramento Shakespeare Interns

As You Like It City Shakes
City Shakes

City Shakes is casting the roles of Silvius and Duke Senior/Duke Frederick for their summer production of As You Like It. The Dukes will both be played by a single actor using a hat – and his ingenuity – to distinguish between the two characters. Rehearsals begin May 12. Performances run weekends June 9 – July 7. This production is non-union and non-paying, but offers a great opportunity to perform Shakespeare outdoors with a group of dedicated theater makers. Please email headshot and resume to CityShakes@gmail.com. For more information visit their casting page at http://cityshakes.org/nowplaying/.

Sacramento Shakespeare Festival H.S. Intern Program
Sacramento Shakespeare Festival is currently accepting applications for its High School Internship Program. Students ages 13 – 18 from the Sacramento area will work and learn alongside some of the area’s finest artists enriching their experience in Shakespeare performance and production. The program builds self-confidence, self-esteem, independence and team skills in a non-competitive atmosphere. All interns will be the performers in the Green show. Interns will also perform a short Shakespeare play in a showcase performance, in addition to receiving intensive instruction and hands-on experience, including workshops in Voice, Movement, Shakespeare, Stage Combat and more. College credit and/or community service hours are available. Application deadline is May 13, 2013. The cost: $0 (if over 18, cost to enroll in the summer program is equal to number of units desired ~ $46.00 per unit). Click Here for complete details, intern schedule, and how to apply.

Audition Update: The Porters – Timon of Athens, CityShakes – As You Like It

The Porters of Hellsgate: Timon of Athens
The Porters of Hellsgate are accepting submissions for auditions for Timon of Athens to be held Saturday, March 23 and Monday, March 25, directed by Charles Pasternak. The company will employ gender-blind and color-blind casting; males and females (ages 18 – 60) will be read for all roles. Please visit www.playshakespeare.com and read up on the play, plot and characters, and in your submission, list characters interested in, or ‘open’ if available for any character in the show. The role of Timon of Athens will be played by Thomas Bigley. Rehearsals begin March 25 and performances run May 3 – June 9 at The Actors’ Forum Theatre. AEA 99-Seat plan. Submit electronically through Actors Access. www.actorsaccess.com

CityShakes: As You Like It
CityShakes co-founders Brooke Bishop and Allison Volk, along with several other company members, will hold workshop-style auditions this weekend for their upcoming production of As You Like It. The auditions will include a meet & greet, warm up, and then cold reading. Please also prepare one comedic Shakespeare monologue. Auditions are Saturday, March 23, 12-5pm, and Sunday, March 24, 12-5pm in Rustic Canyon Park, Santa Monica. Rehearsals are Tues, Thurs, Sat, Sun, May 12-June 8 and performances are Saturdays & Sundays, June 9-July 7. Director Brooke Bishop’s adaptation of As You Like It will be shorter, snappier, and contemporary. The event will be one part Shakespeare play, one part circus, and one part bluegrass barbecue. Think Water for Elephants meets O Brother, Where Art Thou. Auditions, most rehearsals, and performances will be outdoors so if you’re down to have a blast – working with Shakespeare’s words, playing in the sun, and sharing your talent with audiences, please submit your headshot and resume to cityshakes@gmail.com. For a complete breakdown of roles, go to http://cityshakes.org/currentevent/.

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