New Swan Shakespeare Festival presents its third annual season of Shakespearean productions under the stars, in a unique and intimate mini-Elizabethan theater. Last summer the 125-seat theater-in-the-round hosted over 4,000 patrons at its sold-out shows, firmly establishing it as a destination event for summer entertainment, artistic satisfaction, and family fun.
This season the Festival presents freshly imagined productions of Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night, which will run in rotating repertory July 10 through August 30. New this year are pre-performance seminars that will be held on many nights adjacent to the theater on the Gateway Plaza in front of UC Irvine’s Langson Library.
The theater will also host its first musical event, Mozart Monday, a fundraiser on Monday, August 18. The evening features Maestro Benjamin Simon and friends from the LA Philharmonic in a program of chamber music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Romeo and Juliet is directed by Calvin MacLean, artistic director of the Clarence Brown Theater in Tennessee, and long-time artistic director of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. The production will receive a period setting, but will not focus on traditionally obvious themes. “To suggest that Romeo and Juliet are beautiful figures in death, sacrifices to ‘romantic love,’ is too literary for me,” says MacLean. There is nothing conventional, however, in the familiar tragedy of young people reeling from passion and adolescent panic toward suicide.”
Exploring an issue that is all too prevalent today, the production will examine the faults that lie with the adult Montagues and Capulets: carelessly allowing the feud to continue, disregarding the vulnerability of their sons and daughters, and ultimately not taking seriously their responsibility. “It is the weight of this realization that we leave our audience to ponder,” adds MacLean.
Twelfth Night will be directed by Eli Simon, New Swan Shakespeare Festival’s artistic director. “We are setting the play in the Roaring Twenties,” says Simon, “the silent film/early talkies era, and it will feature an original ragtime piano score to be played live on stage.” This is a high-spirited romantic comedy imbued with deep passions and probing truths, but it is much more than a lighthearted romp; there are gorgeous moments to be found, and character revelations from start to finish. “In this Hollywood-Illyria-land, the characters and the audience revel in a magical, hyper-theatrical energy,” says Simon. “We look forward to sharing the magic of Twelfth Night, one of the Bard’s most musical and lyric works.”
New Swan Shakespeare Festival is Orange County’s only professional Shakespeare festival performed outdoors in a sustainable, portable mini-Elizabethan theatre, the New Swan Theater, where the audience and actors inhabit the same dynamic, in-the-round space.
ROMEO AND JULIET and TWELFTH NIGHT
July 10 – August 30, 2014 (on alternating nights)
Show time: 8:00 pm Wed. through Sun.
Average running time is 2 hours and 15 minutes with intermission
Tickets/info: (949) 824-2787 or www.newswanshakespeare.com
All performances take place on the Gateway Plaza, next to Aldrich Park and near Langson Library, at the center of the UC Irvine campus. Suggested parking is in Parking Structure 4 on Pereira and W. Peltason, across the street from the UCI Student Center