Interview: Todd Lerew Offers Insight into America’s Shakespeare: The Bard Goes West

First Folio

First Folio on display in America’s Shakespeare: The Bard Goes West. Photo courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library

Something may be rotten in the state of Denmark but, in Los Angeles, Shakespeare lovers will find all the joy that they can wish when the Library Foundation of Los Angeles opens its newest exhibit: America’s Shakespeare: The Bard Goes West on November 17 at the Central Library. The show is a partnership between the Library Foundation, the Los Angeles Public Library, and Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC and will not only offer a look at his incredible legacy worldwide but show how Shakespeare’s impact was felt here in California.

The highlight of the exhibit is a First Folio (1623) from the Folger’s collection which will be shown alongside an incredible array of rare documents and artifacts from the Folger and other local organizations. Some may even surprise you.

I was curious what it takes to bring such a monumental exhibition to Los Angeles so I spoke to Foundation Program Manager, Todd Lerew, for a little insight into what goes on behind the scenes.

todd-lerew

Todd Lerew

Back to the Beginning
“Initially it was the Folger who approached the library a couple of years ago about bringing their America’s Shakespeare exhibit out to Los Angeles,” says Lerew. “We really wanted to put more of a California perspective on it becuase we like to approach all of our projects through a Southern California lens and what it means to the people who live here. We also wanted to make the exhibit accessible to everyone. That’s why these programs are free to the public.”

Lerew says one of the biggest overarching goals of the show is to demonstrate that Shakespeare is for everyone. “You may not think you know anything about him but you use phrases he created all the time, like ‘dead as a doornail,’ ‘forever and a day,’ and ‘wild-goose chase.’ He’s everywhere. We wanted people to see that Shakespeare is a bigger part of their life than they may have realized.”

One of the ways the library intends to show how Shakespeare has influenced California is by the interactive digital map they have created. “It not only contains theatres and venues and places where you’d see Shakespeare and groups that are putting it on,” says Lerew, “but also references to Shakespeare found throughout the city. For example, the area around Hermosa Beach was originally called Shakespeare Beach and you can see that on the map.”

Shakespeare Society of America
“I first learned about Shakespeare Beach through the Shakespeare Society of America, which was founded by Thad Taylor in the early ’70s,” says Lerew. “He used to have a little hidden theater in West L.A. called the Globe Playhouse designed as a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London.”

Little known fact: SSA’s Globe Theatre was the first to stage all 38 of Shakespeare’s plays in succession from 1976-1979, in 48 months. They repeated the complete Canon again from 1981 – 1984, in 38 months. Thad passed away in 2006 and, the following year, Thad’s nephew, Terry, relocated the society to Moss Landing in Monterey, CA where it still exists today.

“Thad was a really interesting character. We found a lot of fascinating information about Shakespeare in LA through his organization and were able to borrow some great artifacts from them as well. They have a massive collection of rare items that includes museum and visual art pieces, theatre archives, photographs, props, posters, reviews, and many other unique pieces.

Lerew says, in the eighties, Thad tried to get the city to change the name back to Shakespeare Beach but was ultimately unsuccessful. Still, proof exists of the developers’ early intent.

“We have a plat map, which is a kind of blueprint map, from the original plans when the Red Cars opened to the beach. [The Red Cars, run by Pacific Electric, were part of a transit system consisting of electric trolleys, cars, and buses that made up the largest electric railway system in the world at the time.] The developers called it Shakespeare Beach because they wanted to create an artist or writers colony in that area so all of the streets were named after writers – Hawthorne, Tennyson, Ruskin. By the 1920s, the name Shakespeare and almost all of the other authors had disappeared and the streets were renamed with numbers. But, thanks to the Shakespeare Society of America and Hermosa Beach Historical Society, we have the plans from the early days as well as an incredible photograph of the beach that shows a red car and a couple of men in suits by a sign that says, Shakespeare Beach: Plots Now for Sale. It’s a beautiful piece.”

“We’ve been able to make some fascinating connections like these through Shakespeare Society of America. Thad created another unique Shakespeare installation in 1984 when the Olympics came to town. He built a gigantic metal sculpture of Shakespeare holding the torch that hung outside his theater and he designed a beautiful poster with a quote from Romeo and Juliet that said, This is the Place where the Torch Doth Burn.”

mww2According to Lerew, the Folger’s artifacts represent about half of the show but ten additional California-based institutions have contributed materials as well, including the State Library, the Hollywood Bowl Museum, the archives of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the Warner Bros. collection at USC, the San Francisco Public Library, and others.

One of his favorite items is “an incredible gigantic poster from the California-Panama Pacific Exposition that took place in Balboa Park in San Diego a hundred years ago. It’s hard to describe but it is a huge poster with giant orange letters talking about five hundred children in costumes for the Shakespearean Pageant. It’s a really wonderful piece and an interesting bit of California history.”

Shakespeare Goes Hollywood
Because Shakespeare was a big part of California history, the exhibit also focuses heavily on Shakespeare in Hollywood and how he came out west. Costumes from several classic films will be on display. Among them: Alan Bates and Glenn Close’s royal finery from Franco Zeffirelli’s 1990 Hamlet and an arm cuff that Marlon Brando wore in Julius Caesar.

“The costumes are great because they are so visual. We have a staged set as part of the exhibit where people can do a character activity and read a couple of lines on stage if they want to. We’ve also built huge stage sets behind several of the display cases to illuminate some of the themes of the show. For example, there is a large section about Abraham Lincoln and the Booth family. Of course, John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin, is there but his brother Edwin and his whole family were also Shakespearean actors. They came out to California to perform Shakespeare’s plays in the mining camps during the gold rush. Edwin’s granddaughter, Edwina, lived up in Northridge so CSUN has some of the family archives. Through them, we were able to get the recording of Edwin Booth reading a speech from Othello. You can hear that in the Lincoln section where we have a big backdrop of Ford’s Theatre. We also have a Pioneer Theater in another section, and Arden, which was the home of Helena Modjeska, the great Polish actress who settled in Orange County. I could go on and on.”

lisa-wolpe

Lisa Wolpe

ALOUD Authors Series
Two literary programs have been announced on the library’s ALOUD Authors series that takes place in conjunction with the exhibit. The first will feature distinguished theatre director, Peter Sellars, in conversation with Ayanna Thompson, Professor of English at George Washington University on Shakespeare Now: Race, Justice, and the American Dream on January 19, 2017. The second is a discussion between world-renowned Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro and Lisa Wolpe, Producing Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company titled Shakespeare in America on February 16, 2017. Reservations for both can be made in December.

While the main exhibit will take place at the Central Library downtown, Lerew says 23 of the neighborhood library branches will also be presenting their own programs as part of the Shakespeare event. Approximately a hundred such programs will take place across the city presented by groups like the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, and Swordplay LA. A Microsite highlighting the Central Library exhibit currently links to all the branch calendars where you’ll find these companion programs listed as they are confirmed. Click Here to go to the site.

“I’m really happy that we are able to display some of the Public Library’s own Shakespeare collections in the exhibit so people can look through a small sample of the resources we have here,” says Lerew. “Shakespeare is the only writer who has his own Dewey Decimal number. I think that’s so fascinating. You walk through the stacks here and you see why because it goes on for rows and rows. We’ll have books in the show that people can take downstairs to check out to really stress the connection between these fabulous display items you can’t touch and the incredible resources that you can.”

Lerew acknowledges that some serious scholarship has gone into curating the collection for the show. “It’s a pretty serious survey of the different ways that Shakespeare has come to this country, including some of the very earliest objects or records of Shakespeare appearing in the new world and the different ways Shakespeare has been used to lend voice to people talking about war. It’s absolutely something that scholars of Shakespeare will not want to miss.”

The exhibition will also include a Lost & Found at the Movies series with titles to be announced. The Library Foundation is partnering with CAP UCLA for their performances of Forced Entertainment’s Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare which runs December 6-11, 2016 at Royce Hall. For more information about these fascinating performances go to cap.ucla.edu.

library-photo

AMERICA’S SHAKESPEARE: THE BARD GOES WEST
November 17, 2016 – February 26, 2017
Library Foundation of Los Angeles
Central Library, Getty Gallery
630 West Fifth Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90071
More Info
Admission to the exhibit is free to the public
Programs are free unless otherwise noted

In addition to the many programs and special events that will be part of America’s Shakespeare: The Bard Goes West, the Library Store will have a number of fun and quirky wares with a Shakespearean twist for sale.

Ellen Dostal
Shakespeare in LA

The Old Globe Announces its 2017 Summer Season

Robert Sean LeonardThe Old Globe has announced its complete 2017 Summer Shakespeare Festival Season which will feature two Shakespeare classics: Richard II and Hamlet, as well as Ken Ludwig’s new comedy Robin Hood! in its world premiere. The season also includes the previously announced Guys and Dolls, directed and choreographed by Josh Rhodes, presented in association with Asolo Repertory Theatre.

Richard II, starring Robert Sean Leonard and directed by Erica Schmidt (A Month in the Country Off Broadway). Convinced of his divine right to rule, King Richard acts recklessly and provides the canny Henry Bolingbroke an opening to seize the crown. Full of magnificent verse and Shakespeare’s characteristic wisdom and insight, Richard II is a deeply moving and insightful portrait of how the forces of history collide and combust to shape a nation’s political landscape. June 11 – July 15, 2017

Following Richard II is Shakespeare’s exhilarating tragedy Hamlet, directed by Old Globe Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director Barry Edelstein, one of the leading American authorities on the works of Shakespeare. Edelstein will direct a cast that includes some of the nation’s finest classical actors in one of the greatest plays ever written—revenge thriller, ghost story, psychological drama, political epic, family saga, all packed with unforgettable characters, theatrical masterstrokes, and world famous lines. The Prince of Denmark comes home from college to find his father dead, his mother remarried to his uncle, and a spine-chilling apparition roaming the palace grounds. August 6 – September 10, 2017

Tickets to the Globe’s 2017 Summer Season are currently available by subscription online at www.TheOldGlobe.org, by phone at (619) 23-GLOBE [234-5623], or by visiting the box office at 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park. Discounts are available for full-time students, patrons 29 years of age and younger, seniors, and groups of 10 or more.

2017 Summer Shakespeare Festival Season

June 11 – July 15, 2017 (Opening Night June 18)
Richard II

July 2 – August 13, 2017 (Opening Night July 7)
Guys and Dolls

July 22 – August 27, 2017 (Opening Night July 30)
Ken Ludwig’s Robin Hood!

August 6 – September 10, 2017 (Opening Night August 12)
Hamlet

Jana Wimer to Adapt and Direct Sci-Fi Version of The Tempest for ZJU Theatre

The Tempest - ZJU
Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group presents a one-hour, dark sci-fi version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest adapted and directed by Urban Death co-creator Jana Wimer, beginning November 11. Exiled to a primitive planet, the cruel and arrogant Prospero, using technology to enslave and control the natives, is given the opportunity to exact his revenge on those who wronged him. The production stars Bert Emmett as Prospero and Jonica Patella as Caliban, and is produced by Zombie Joe. Recommended for Ages 13 and up.

Performances run November 11 – December 18, Fridays at 8:30pm and Sundays at 7:00pm. No performances Thanksgiving weekend, November 25-27.

THE TEMPEST
November 11 – December 18, 2016
ZJU Theatre Group
4850 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Tickets ($15) at 818-202-4120 or ZombieJoes.Tix.com
More info: ZombieJoes.com

Review: SKULLDUGGERY: The Musical Prequel to Hamlet, a Rowdy Good Time

Skullduggery - Sacred Fools

John Bobek and Brendan Hunt (center) and the cast of Skullduggery. All photos by Jessica Sherman Photography

I love a good prequel, especially when a contemporary playwright decides to take on the back story of a hallowed play by the likes of William Shakespeare. I mean, come on. Daring to tread on that playing field takes some guts because you know before you begin that audiences are going to have high expectations of your work. They also know where you need to end your story in order for Shakespeare’s to begin so getting there must be highly inventive and worthy of its foregone conclusion.

LA-based playwright Michael Shaw Fisher proves he’s up to the task in his latest new work Skullduggery: The Musical Prequel to Hamlet, a rowdy and irreverent precursor to Shakespeare’s revenge play, Hamlet. The musical comedy is a smart contrast in tone that opens up a clever pathway for foreshadowing later events and introducing the quirks of Shakespeare’s dramatic characters, like Ophelia’s (Alyssa Rupert) madness and Polonius’ (Curt Bonnem) convoluted conversation. It also allows for a slew of new characters to emerge that are completely unpredictable. You never know what this bunch of crackpots will do next.

Instead of simply the skull of a jester we meet in passing in Hamlet (“Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio”) Yorick (scene-stealing Brendan Hunt) is a real person – a falling-down drunkard with more than his fair share of secrets. Hunt doesn’t even have to try to be funny. All he has to do is try to stand up and it becomes a study in how to create an unforgettable character. When his arm gets stuck in a set piece or he slips while walking across the stage, it’s a lesson in improv you can’t pass up.

Hamlet Sr. (David Haverty), appearing in Hamlet as a ghost only, is still alive, and three boisterous roustabouts (Jeff Sumner, Matt Valle and Cj Merriman) who will take up new careers as gravediggers before Skullduggery is over will reveal all the mysteries heretofore unsolved.

When this show works it works really well and a lot of that is due to the understanding they (and Hunt) have of how to bring the material to life. In truth, it’s the fusion of their acting chops and director Scott Leggett’s terrific ability to wring the funny out of Fisher’s writing that makes Skullduggery so much fun.

Skullduggery - Sacred Fools

L-R; Jeff Sumner, Matt Valle and Cj Merriman

Each of the three has a distinct personality and role in their lively trio. They sing, they dance, they move like wraiths cloaked in black à la Martha Graham and, whenever they appear, they buoy up the merriment. Leggett’s adept staging and Natasha Norman’s cheeky choreography are a delicious combination that this show wears well.

Skullduggery takes place thirty years before Hamlet begins when brothers Claudius (John Bobek) and Hamlet are young men. Claudius and Gertrude (Leigh Wulff) have fallen in love but when Hamlet goes off to war with their father and dear old dad is killed on the battlefield, Hamlet returns and marries her while Claudius is away at school. Seven years later, Claudius comes home to Elsinore and learns the bitter truth. Yorick’s uncanny ability to predict the future eventually convinces Claudius to join him in his drunken revolution to overthrow the now King Hamlet and take back what he lost.

L-R: John Bobek and David Haverty

L-R: John Bobek and David Haverty

Where Hamlet follows the perspective of King Hamlet’s son, Skullduggery is really Claudius’ story of what led up to the murder. Bobek (as Claudius) is a likable leading man with a strong singing voice whose journey begins hesitantly, and is at times quite comical, with his hypoglycemic fainting spells a regular occurrence. As he gains confidence, his earnest demeanor propels him forward until he takes bold action to achieve his desired end. Haverty goes from battle-ready to war-weary and his few moments of vulnerability add depth to a very traditional character.

As their object of affection, Wulff looks the part of a regal queen but is acting as though she is in an entirely different play. A scene can be serious in a musical comedy but it still needs to have an intensity behind it that is consistent with the style of the play. And, whether or not an actor is miked (they are not here), it is critical that the audience hears their dialogue. In this case, we can’t hear her and the acting is so internal that it comes across as flat. Rebecca Larsen (Berta) does the same thing in her scenes although her wisecracks do land when we can hear them. Both have a bigger problem swallowing their vocals during their songs which gives them an uncomfortably thin, reedy sound, neck veins straining to reach the notes.

It’s too bad because Fisher’s score is an appealing combination of musical styles that includes everything from electro-funk, Lennon-esque tunes, and Sondheim-inspired verses to Renaissance folk, drinking songs, and sea shanties. I even heard something resembling The Pink Panther hidden in the mix. When it goes all out rock, it’s even better.

Musical director Michael Teoli uses instruments you don’t often hear together in a musical to create some cool sound paintings and eerie effects in his arrangements for the show. He features marimba, mandolin, and guitar, and even tuba on “Twenty-Three” at the top of Act II to recap the story and move the audience forward twenty-three years. Vocal harmonies, especially the intentionally dissonant phrases, are deceptively simple and add subtle texture. It’s an artful working of the score that creates a musical world just slightly off enough to catch your ear because it isn’t at all traditional.

Leigh Wulff and John Bobek

Leigh Wulff and John Bobek

Lyrically there are nods to popular Shakespeare phrases and a good bit of punning if you listen closely. You’d have to see the show a second time to catch all the Shakespeare in-jokes Fisher has included so keep your ear tuned.

Sacred Fools’ new Hollywood venue is a step up from their previous location for this kind of musical adventure and the creative team has done some impressive work here. DeAnne Millais’ polished scenic design features open wooden panels, a curved staircase, and some highly effective scene painting (by Joyce Hutter) to bring the Elizabethan era’s stone and bone to life. A cabinet of skulls does double duty stage left while a fabric panel hanging stage right makes tapestry changes via Ben Rock’s rich video projections to further enhance locations. Gorgeous costumes by Linda Muggeridge look expensive under Andrew Schmedake’s saturated lighting design.

Making Shakespeare a good time isn’t always easy but Skullduggery: The Musical Prequel to Hamlet accomplishes that goal and delivers an exhilarating crowd-pleaser. The laughs are infectious, the fun factor high. Maybe every Shakespearean tragedy should come with a comedy prequel.

SKULLDUGGERY: The Musical Prequel to Hamlet
September 30 – November 5, 2016
Sacred Fools Theater Company
1076 Lillian Way
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Tickets: www.sacredfools.org

Review: The Tragedy of JFK (as told by Wm. Shakespeare)

The Tragedy of JFK

Chad Brannon (center) and cast. Photos by Rick Baumgartner

The Blank Theatre opens its 26th season with a new work written and directed by founding artistic director Daniel Henning that explores one of the most controversial events in U.S. history – the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Tragedy of JFK (as told by Wm. Shakespeare) is the result of several decades of research during which time Henning has come to be recognized as an authority on the subject. That, combined with his other great obsession – live theatre – meant it was only a matter of time before LA audiences would see a stage play based on his work.

It isn’t the first time a political leader’s life has been cut short by opposing forces. JFK’s story bears uncanny similarities to another ruler who lived more than 2,000 years ago during the Roman Empire. Julius Caesar’s death at the hands of a group of conspirators would prompt another playwright in England – William Shakespeare – to write his own story of the machinations of men, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, in 1599.

Though separated by thousands of years, the two men do seem eerily connected, with one important difference. The public knew who killed Caesar, but JFK? That’s a whole other ball of wax.

Although the Warren Commission, tasked with the JFK investigation, would find that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in gunning down the president, conspiracy theories abound. There were many who had something to gain by JFK’s death. Henning connects the dots in a way that rids the story of its misinformation and draws compelling conclusions about the events (by way of theatrical exploration) that are hard to deny.

To tell the story, he uses much of the Julius Caesar text, skillfully merging our historical characters and their Shakespearean alter egos. The cadence of the contemporary regional accents and classical verse works well together as does the straightforward tone of the piece. Henning strips away all distractions and focuses in on what is said and who is saying it. In doing so, the parallels between characters like Caesar and JFK (Ford Austin), Brutus and LBJ (Time Winters), Cassius and J. Edgar Hoover (Tony Abatemarco), or Marc Antony and Bobby Kennedy (Chad Brannon) become chillingly apparent.

Tragedy of JFK - The Blank

L-R: Time Winters, Bruce Nehlsen, and Tony Abatemarco

Abatemarco’s Hoover is a cunning creation whose resentment of JFK is obvious from the very beginning. His Machiavellian overtures come couched within an oily persona that only becomes more disgusting with every wonderfully vile speech he bites into. We love to hate him. As Lyndon Johnson, Winters presents a meticulous portrait of a man of ambition who will not be underestimated. He is a commanding presence amid the players and uses intimidation as it suits him.

Austin captures JFK’s effortless charm in passages like the “I will not come” dialogue after Jackie (Casey McKinnon) warns him not to go forth today (the same warning Shakespeare’s Calpernia gives Caesar before he is assassinated at the Senate). McKinnon is a gentle Jackie, full of grace, with a stunning resemblance to the first lady. Brannon’s two best moments, the “Cry havoc” speech and his “I come to bury Caesar” diatribe full of thinly-veiled malice, resonate deeply.

The Tragedy of JFK

Casey McKinnon and Ford Austin

The entire cast is equally as skilled, with additional notable performances from Susan Denaker as Lady Bird Johnson and Brett Collier as Martin Luther King, Jr.

The timeline of the play covers the events leading up to the assassination and the fallout that follows it, reaching its climax during a powerful scene recreating Dr. King’s march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. A lyric revision turns the civil rights anthem “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around” into an emotional high point creating a kind of false ending before the play moves on to LBJ’s presidency, his decision not to run for re-election in 1968, and the events at the Ambassador Hotel that same year when Bobby Kennedy would be shot.

An uncomplicated technical design benefits the production by keeping the audience’s attention riveted on the characters. Historical footage projected on the set is the lone obvious enhancement that introduces theatricality to the overall effect. It’s beautifully done.

The Tragedy of JFK presents a compelling explanation for one of the most horrific events in U.S. history and Henning’s production contains some of the finest work you’ll see on a stage in LA. This is an exceptional cast telling an extraordinary story and one of the best nights of theatre you’ll see in 2016.

THE TRAGEDY OF JFK (As Told By Wm. Shakespeare)
October 1 – November 6, 2016 (Extended through Nov 20)
The Blank Theatre at The Skylight Theatre
1816½ N. Vermont
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Tickets: www.theblank.com

Romeo & Juliet by Lovers & Madmen coming to Levitt Pavilion

Romeo & Juliet - Lovers and Madmen

Lovers & Madmen Productions present
Romeo & Juliet
October 8 – 23, 2016
Saturdays and Sundays at 4pm
Levitt Pavilion in Pasadena
Admission is “pay what you can”
For more information go to www.loversandmadmen.com.

A Post-Apocalyptic Scotland sets the stage for The Vagrancy’s MACBETH

Here’s one to arouse your primal instincts. Butoh-inspired choreography and gruesome stage combat will be the hallmarks of The Vagrancy’s upcoming production of Macbeth directed by artistic director Caitlin Hart. The production takes place in a post-apocalyptic Scotland and promises to be an unnerving and eerie fusion of classic and modern futility.

Hart will tell the story of Macbeth’s path of tyranny, murder and madness in an aggressive cut (show runs 100 minutes) which finds the temporary king haunted by the prophecies of three nightmarish witches and bolstered by his ambitious wife.

The cast stars Daniel Kaemon as Macbeth and Alana Dietze as Lady Macbeth, with Arthur Keng (Banquo), Joseph Valdez (Macduff), Elitia Daniels (Lady Macduff), My-Ishia Cason-Brown (Ross), Brandon Ruiter (Malcolm), Kamar Elliot (Lennox), Marissa Brennan (First Witch/Hecate), Kelly Perez (Second Witch), Carolyn Deskin (Third Witch), Ann Colby-Stocking (Queen Duncan/First Apparition), Steve Madar (Porter/Doctor), Austin Iredale (Siward/First Murderer), Blaine Nicholls (Captain), Andrew Walke (Angus), Ciera Jo Thompson (Donalbain/ Caithness), Rebecca Everhart (Witch/Messenger), Maia Kazin (Witch/ Gentlewoman), Meredith Brown (Witch/Nurse), Aliyah Conley and Mia Moore doubling as Macduff’s Child, and Andrew Grigorian (Fleance).

Dance choreography is by Holly Rothschild and fight choreography is by Jason Vaughn. The creative team also includes Tristan Jeffers (set design), Kaitlyn Kaufman (costume design), Matt Richter (lighting & sound design), Gabriela Zarate (props design), Steve Madar (technical director), Amanda A. Padró (dramaturg), Kathryn Read Fisher (associate producing director), Karina Faulstich (assistant director), Miranda Stewart and Jamie Hannah Drutman (co-producers), Kelly Egan (stage manager) and Karina Wolfe (public relations).

The Vagrancy - MacbethThe Vagrancy is an LA-based theatre company that creates visceral work in order to touch the human spirit.

MACBETH

October 28 – November 20, 2016
The Vagrancy at
The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles
1238 West 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Friday/Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 7pm
Tickets: TheVagrancy.brownpapertickets
Running time: 100 minutes
For more about the company go to www.thevagrancy.com.

Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, What is it to be false?

Cymbeline - Whitmore

From the press release: “Two star-crossed lovers wed in secrecy. But what should be the happy ending of their tale is instead the beginning of a journey filled with adventure and betrayal, where the separation between allies and enemies blurs beyond recognition. When the people you love the most are the same people trying to destroy you, how do you survive? Can we forgive each other when the cut is still bleeding?

The capacity for both great kindness and great cruelty in all of us is at the heart of Shakespeare’s late classic, Cymbeline. Imogen, princess of Britain, is forced into solitude upon the banishment of her husband, the orphan-born but royally raised Posthumus. The punishment is handed down by her father, King Cymbeline, at the behest of his conniving and manipulative new queen, who plans to wed her oafish and dangerous son Cloten to Imogen now that Posthumus is gone.

Separated from Posthumus for the first time in her young life, Imogen grows bolder with each new obstacle thrown her way. But Posthumus, alienated in a foreign country, enters into an ill-conceived bet with the devious Iachimo. That wager sets a series of lies and betrayals into motion, forcing Imogen to embark on a hero’s journey leading her to everything from finding long-lost siblings to embroiling her in a looming war between Britain and Rome. Dramatic and darkly comic throughout, Cymbeline is both intensely personal and daringly epic.”

This intimate production of Cymbeline is directed by Frank Weidner and stars Christine Avila, Olivia Buntaine, William Dennis Hunt, Jordan Klomp, Kathleen Leary, Celia Mandela, Victoria Martinez, Gerard Marzilli, Dane Oliver, Daniel Ramirez, and Michelle Wicklas, and produced by Bo Powell and Jordan Klomp.

CYMBELINE
November 4 – 20, 2016
Whitmore Theatre
11006 Magnolia Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Tickets: Cymbelinela.brownpapertickets.com
$20 General Admission

Inner Circle Theatre Presents a Tech-Savvy Prince of Denmark

Hamlet - Inner Circle Theatre

Hamlet tells us, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” It’s all in the perception of a thing, especially today in the age of Snapchat and Instagram where the camera puts our lives on display (or the version we choose to share). Looking to the artistic and social troublemakers of our time, the production sees Hamlet wield the camera as both exploratory tool and brutal weapon. Urban and tech-savvy, this Prince of Denmark confronts his perceptions with Shakespeare’s text and the image-wizardry of a modern street artist.

Inner Circle Theatre and director Matthew G. Hill will fuse together Hill’s years as a film and theatre artist with his work as an illustrator to form a hybrid production that places the Bard’s great revenge play at the vanguard. Hill is an artist-in-residency at the National Theatre of Croatia, the Getty Villa, and the Annenberg Beach House and is currently the associate artistic director of the Rogue Artists Ensemble.

HAMLET
October 7 – November 6, 2016
Inner Circle Theatre
North Hollywood, CA
Specific location disclosed upon ticket purchase
Tickets: www.innercircletheatre.com

David Melville to Direct ISC’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

ISC - Midsummer

Tatiana Louder and Erwin Tuazon. Photo credit: Ko Zushi Photography

How do you follow up a summer season of Free Shakespeare in Griffith Park for audiences that number in the hundreds each night? By going intimate, which is exactly what Independent Shakespeare Co. is doing this fall. On Saturday, October 15, the company will open A Midsummer Night’s Dream in its Independent Studio in Atwater Village, directed by ISC’s Managing Director, David Melville.

In Midsummer, the lines between dreaming and waking are deliciously blurred. As the King and Queen of fairies do battle in a fantastical forest, they find their world interrupted by mortals: four young lovers on the run and a group of amateur actors preparing for the biggest performance of their lives. As the humans submit to the magic of the woods, they find themselves in the longest, wildest, most transformative night of their lives.

Director David Melville says, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream is actually one of Shakespeare’s most sophisticated plays. In it, Shakespeare creates a world that is as confounding as it is magical. Its intricately plotted, intersecting storylines evoke a complex world full of unseen forces. Our production, in which nine actors switch almost acrobatically from role to role, is as fun and lively as the audience expects, but also explores the darker and more elemental underpinnings and energy of the play. The action of the play is over the course of one wild, mysterious night, and our production reflects that—it’s like being at a really great, weird party full of eccentrics.”

The cast will feature Jose Acain, Sam Breen, April Fritz, Martha Gehman, Faqir Hassan, Tatiana Louder, Evan Lewis Smith, Erwin Tuazon and Kalean Ung. Lighting Design is by Bosco Flanagan. Costume Design is by Lauren Opplet. Composer and Sound Design by David Melville.

A Gala Opening Benefit Performance and Party will take place Saturday, October 22. A benefit performance to support ISC’s ‘Theater For All’ initiative, providing access to performances all year long. This season, 20% of the ISC Studio tickets are offered free to underserved youth, families on a limited income, and other members of our community that typically do not have access to the performing arts; through partnerships with a select group of Los Angeles school and community organizations, like P.S. ARTS. There are also a limited number of free tickets available to anyone who needs them. Tickets for the benefit are $100.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
October 15 – November 20, 2016 (opening night 10/21)
Independent Studio, 3191 Casitas Avenue #168
(between Fletcher Drive and Glendale Blvd.)
Atwater Crossing Arts + Innovation Complex
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Tickets: (818) 710-6306 or www.iscla.org

Generous Admission – $35. Support ISC’s initiative to provide access across income and age.
General Admission – $20. ISC’s affordable ticket price.
FREE. A limited number of free tickets are available for each performance so that price is not an obstacle to attending live theater. Email ISC at indyshakes@iscla.org or call the office at 818-710-6306 to make a reservation.

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