This year’s Britweek Festival is exactly what you Shakespeare lovers have been waiting for so mark your calendars for April 21 – May 4. Here’s a look at some of the great events that will be taking place all around the city.
A highlight of the Britweek Shakespeare tribute will be an intimate Evening with Shakespeare at the new Moss Theatre in Santa Monica on Friday April 25 co-hosted by Dana Delany and Ioan Gruffudd. The evening will consist of Shakespearean readings, sonnets and songs, selected and performed by leading Shakespearean actors, including Michael York, Malcolm Mcdowell, Jane Seymour, Julian Sands, and Sophie Winkleman. Also included is a VIP reception in which audience members can meet and talk to the performers.
“Shakespeare is the voice of human experience,” says Malcolm MacDowell, who will recite a selection from The Tempest. “There is no emotion that any of us has felt – anger, love, joy, pain, loss – that Shakespeare hasn’t written about. That’s what makes him so human.”
Also appearing on the 90-minute program will be Ashley Bell, Eric Braeden, Claudia Christian, Neil Dickson, Joely Fisher, Mira Furlan, Judy Geeson, Michele Greene, Harry Hamlin, David Melville, Graham Miller, Robert Ray Wilson, and Robert Wisdom.
An Evening with Shakespeare is produced by Louis Fantasia, veteran producer of over 100 plays and operas on five continents, former director of the American Shakespeare Globe’s Teaching Shakespeare through Performance Institute, and director of the Globe Theatre’s acting and performing workshop in London for ten years. He is now in his tenth year leading the Shakespeare at the Huntington program.
Martin Neary, once organist and master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey, will also direct the Millennium Consort Singers in choral masterpieces from the Renaissance throughout the program. Sherry Williams will sing jazz classics from Shakespeare’s Songbook.
“People underestimate Shakespeare’s impact on music,” says Fantasia. “Not only are his plays full of songs and used as the basis for dozens of operas, but composers from classical to jazz have set his words to music.”
Proceeds from the evening will benefit two children’s Shakespeare programs in Los Angeles – Inner City Shakespeare Ensemble and The Hobart Shakespeareans. The Inner City Shakespeare Ensemble, directed by Dr. Melanie Andrews, brings the world of theatre and Shakespeare to students across the LAUSD. Through the support of professional mentors, barriers of ethnicities are erased and the students are able to realize their own special talents and potential. The Hobart Shakespeareans, run by Rafe Esquith an award winning teacher and author, is a public school classroom designed to improve the quality of life for economically disadvantaged children.
Tickets for An Evening with Shakespeare will go on sale Thursday, March 27 however VIP pre-sale tickets are currently available.
Additional Shakespearean Britweek events include:
Chickspeare: April 26, 7:00 pm & April 27, 5:00 pm
An all-female, improvised Shakespeare-style play performed on the patio. Come early and bring a picnic. Bring some wine. This cast of verbose vixens will keep you laughing until the sun has set.
Britweek Santa Monica Festival: May 3 & 4
Celebrate the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare with exciting performances, music and dance, children’s workshops and costumes for dress-up, Shakespeare-inspired street art from LA artist Man One, and more at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. Live performances, include Independent Shakespeare Co., highland dancers, pipe bands, acclaimed British performer Desi Valentine, leading Los Angeles and UK street artists, and more.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: May 4 at 2:00 pm
Inner City Shakespeare Ensemble Performance in Grand Park, Los Angeles
National Theatre Live’s Othello: May 4 at 2:00 pm
This HD video-cast of Shakespeare’s classic tale of jealousy, manipulation and remorse, starring Olivier Award-winning actor Adrian Lester OBE as Othello and Rory Kinnear as Iago, will be screened by LA Theatre Works in the James Bridges Theater at UCLA. Seats are likely to be in great demand, but a limited number of $20 tickets ($10 with student ID) are being held for Britweek guests.
For more information about Britweek and a complete look at the many events in addition to those listed above, please visit www.britweek.org.