Titus Andronicus Joins Summer Rep Season at Theatricum Botanicum, July 30

Titus Andronicus - Theatricum

Sheridan Crist and Melora Marshall. Photo by Ian Flanders

Leave the children at home for Theatricum Botanicum’s upcoming production of Titus Andronicus, opening July 30. In this violent and disturbing saga of vengeance and retribution, director Ellen Geer explores questions of leadership and the relationship between government and its citizens as the company takes on Shakespeare’s earliest tragedy. It is recommended for mature audiences due to adult themes and violence.

When general Titus Andronicus returns from war with prisoners Queen Tamora, her lover and her sons, he hands over Tamora’s eldest son for sacrifice, and so sets off a bloody cycle of violence that swiftly accelerates out of control.

“Here’s a 400-year-old play that outdoes even the unimaginable horrors we hear about daily in today’s news,” says Geer. “At its core, it’s the story of a government gone awry. These leaders haven’t been elected by the people. They have been put into positions of power by political insiders. They don’t answer to their citizens, but to the gods of greed, envy and revenge.”

Titus Andronicus is often seen as Shakespeare’s early attempt to emulate the popular, bloody revenge plays of his contemporaries. According to dramaturg Isabel Smith-Bernstein, Shakespeare may have set the play in ancient Rome because he was living in a time reminiscent of the cruelties of that era, a time when violence and death were part of everyday life: in sports such as bear baiting and hunting, in public floggings and executions, and in the wars that divided empires. Death was always looming with threats of illness and plague.

Viewing the play as a cautionary tale for our own times, Geer sets Theatricum’s production in the not-too-distant future, making use of Jordan-Marc Diamond’s costumes and an original soundscape created by composer Marshall McDaniel to define time and place.

Sheridan Crist stars in the title role, with Marie-Françoise Theodore as Queen Tamora; Michael McFall as Tamora’s lover, Aaron; Christopher W. Jones as Saturninus; Willow Geer as Lucia; Mark Lewis as Publius; and Melora Marshall as “Marcia” (Marcus) Andronicus.

The cast also includes Kamran Abbassian, Raúl Ramón Bencomo, Clayton Cook, Turner Frankosky, Bradley Gosnell, Alexandra Hensley, Nima Jafari, Richard Johnson, Cindy Kania, Finn Kerwin, Kathleen Leary, Shane McDermott, Kelvin Morales, Precious Ra’Akbar, Alexander Sheldon, Talya Sindel, Daniel A. Stevens, Sky Wahl, Alexandre Wauthier, Michelle Wicklas and Miebaka Yohannes.

Lighting design is by Zach Moore, fight choreography is by Aaron Hendry; and the production stage manager is Pete Parkin.

TITUS ANDRONICUS
July 30 – October 1, 2016 (7:30 pm)
Theatricum Botanicum
1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga
(midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley)
Tickets: 310-455-3723 or www.theatricum.com

Review: Imagination Reigns in Kingsmen Shakespeare Company’s HENRY V

Henry V - Kingsmen

Ty Mayberry (center) and the cast of Henry V

Kingsmen Shakespeare Company’s production of Henry V takes its cue from one of Shakespeare’s most well-known speeches, “O for a Muse of fire…,” the prologue to this play. In it, Shakespeare invites the audience to use its imagination in viewing what is about to transpire, to picture the battle scenes that will take place and the great kings who will lead their armies across the vast countryside, all represented on this humble stage.

Director Michael J. Arndt follows through with this idea of sparking imagination by taking a minimalist approach to the production design leaving a wide open stage upon which fight choreographer Jason D. Rennie stages battle scenes using the largest number of actors to date in a Kingsmen production – some 35 in all. For the Battle of Agincourt, Rennie even incorporates the use of synchronized longbows which were vital to the English conquering the French, who greatly outnumbered them on the battlefield. The effect is quite stunning.  More

Shakespearean Vaudeville Premieres at Shakespeare Orange County

SOC - Sonnets

Patrick Peterson and Allison Volk

Shakespeare Orange County has commissioned a new piece by Southern California playwright Allison Volk in honor of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. Sonnets, Songs & Sorry, Will’s Been Dead 400 Years! is a rollicking “Shakespearean vaudeville” that will receive its world premiere at SOC on Sunday, July 10 at 7pm.

The 90-minute play uses modern language, as well as Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets, to explore what happens backstage when SOC company members learn that a direct descendant of William Shakespeare is coming to see their performance of Hamlet. Mistaken identities, unrequited love and plenty of humor is on tap during this crowd-pleasing comic romp.

Directed by SOC veteran Colin Martin, the show stars Nicholas Thurkettle, Sonja Inge, Patrick Peterson, Ben Horowitz and Allison Volk, plus an ensemble of acting conservatory students from the Orange County High School of Performing Arts.

Sonnets, Songs & Sorry, Will’s Been Dead 400 Years!
July 10 – August 7, 2016
Sundays at 7pm
Garden Grove Amphitheater
12852 Main Street, Garden Grove, CA 92840
Tickets: www.shakespeareoc.org

Review: Romeo and Juliet through the Lens of the Middle East by way of Topanga Canyon

Romeo and Juliet - Theatricum Botanicum

Judy Durkin and Shaun Taylor-Corbett. All photos by Miriam Geer

Not even a wall can keep these lovers apart.

This particular wall happens to be in modern-day East Jerusalem and as Theatricum Botanicum’s production of Romeo and Juliet commences, chaos ignites at a checkpoint that divides Israel and Palestine. It is a city that has seen struggle for thousands of years and for one Muslim boy named Romeo and one Jewish girl named Juliet, not even their innocence can change the course of this story.

Following a prologue that ominously shakes its finger at what’s to come, director Ellen Geer’s opening sequence flashes to life in a rush of sound and movement. I could feel my heart start to race as the briskly choreographed fight scene reached its pivotal high point. Geer’s production wastes no time in defining the stakes of this all too real world and the intensity of fight choreographer Aaron Hendry’s skirmishes pulse like a pressure cooker as pent-up emotions erupt again and again.

The show connects on a visceral level because the Middle East’s ongoing crisis, though half a world away, still has repercussions in our own back yard. Local actions have global consequences and, until we accept that we all bear the burden of that responsibility, peace will remain elusive and loss is inevitable. The Capulets and Montagues show us how devastating that loss can be.
More

Christopher Hoag’s Cinematic Approach to Creating Music for Shakespeare

For the past seven years, composer Christopher Hoag has conjured up battle scenes, storms, romance, and adventure with his music for Kingsmen Shakespeare Company’s annual summer festival. If you’ve seen one of their productions, you know how beautifully his rich orchestral scores enhance Shakespeare’s text on their outdoor festival stage. He’s back again this year writing music for two shows: the currently running Henry V, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, opening July 15. Here he talks about the process of bringing the world of Shakespeare’s plays to life with music.

Chris Hoag

Christopher Hoag

Chris, you’re working with director Michael Arndt on Henry V. Where do you find your musical inspiration?

The reasons why the director and I make the stylistic choices we do for the Kingsmen scores are always varied. Sometimes it’s the period, sometimes it comes from a conceptual approach to the play. In the case of our Henry V, it was a combination of both. The score really stems from Michael’s idea to put the Chorus in modern times as a documentary narrator/TV reporter, and the actual events of the play proper in a more period setting. I had to bridge those two worlds. So I thought it would be fun to do a very electronic sounding score; one that’s still dramatic and orchestral in nature, but using predominately electronic orchestrations towards that end. The score is really an homage to the electronic scores that I grew up with in the 80s by composers like Vangelis, Michael Stearns, Tangerine Dream, and Wendy Carlos. It’s been great fun exploring these sounds both in a modern and period context.

The electronics also have a tendency to be a bit cooler and removed emotionally, which I believe reflects Michael’s interest in how modern media portrays serious events through a sometimes very aloof and self-serving lens. Ultimately, much of the play is about war; the triumphs and the tremendous tragedies. And those things are also major points of reference for the music.

Are there particular cues or sequences we should listen for?

I feel very fortunate in that I am often asked to write an “overture” for the Kingsmen shows. It’s a bit of an old-fashioned thing to do, but as a composer it’s a great opportunity to stretch out and to musically “set the emotional stage” for what you are about to experience. It’s also very helpful for me to draw from it as I go through the process of scoring the rest of the play. The overture for Henry V states the main motifs that recur numerous times throughout the show.

Beyond that, I’d suggest listening for the “Once more unto the breach” speech which goes into the siege at Harfleur. I love scoring dialog. It’s a delicate thing, but when it’s working there’s nothing better for me personally. And this is such a rousing and powerful speech. Here, the music is constantly building and modulating, but never quite resolving….until the final charge into battle.

Of course, aside from the director, it’s always a hugely important thing for the actors to be okay with the music I write for them. And in this case our Henry, played brilliantly by Ty Mayberry, asked for a copy of the music so he could work with it. The cue is in two parts and it’s built in such a way that Ty has plenty of room to play. It’s a good example of the wonderfully collaborative nature of this company.  More

Sierra Madre Shakespeare Festival Presents 2nd Season of Summer Classics

Sierra Shakes

Sierra Shakes in action

Sierra Madre Shakespeare Festival returns to Sierra Madre Memorial Park for its second season of Shakespeare under the stars. The season will feature two classics – one comedy and one tragedy – now through August 13. Romeo and Juliet is currently running through July 16 and Twelfth Night will open July 21 and continue through August 13. All performances are free so bring the family, a blanket, and a picnic and you’ll be set for a lovely summer night.

“We are thrilled to be returning to Sierra Madre with two different plays and nearly 20 performances,” says artistic director Devon Armstrong. “The audiences were tremendous last year, and we can only hope that they enjoyed the shows as much as the cast did. We are proud to offer these performances in a co-sponsorship with the City of Sierra Madre and with the support of the Sierra Madre Community Foundation.”

Following the performances in Sierra Madre, the company will move to its downtown location at the historic Pico House for an additional five performances of Twelfth Night.

Sierra Shakes

ROMEO AND JULIET
June 23 – July 16, 2016
7:30 pm
Sierra Madre Memorial Park
TWELFTH NIGHT
July 21 – August 13, 2016
7:30 pm
Sierra Madre Memorial Park
222 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, CA, 91024.
Performances are Free and there is Free Street Parking
www.SierraShakes.com

TWELFTH NIGHT
August 19, 20, 21, 24 & 26, 2016
7:30 pm
Pico House
424 N. Main Street
Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90012
www.downtownrep.com

Ophelia’s Jump Presents OTHELLO & A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Ophelia's Jump 2016

Ophelia’s Jump’s Annual Midsummer Shakespeare Festival presents two Shakespeare classics beginning July 14. Performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (opening 7/14) and Othello (opening 7/15) will alternate each night in Pomona College’s Sontag Greek Theatre, a beautiful outdoor amphitheater originally built in 1910 and renovated in 1997. Prior to the performance, a 30-minute Green Show acts as an entertaining prelude to the main performance. Bring a picnic and don’t forget a small blanket or cushion for added comfort.

The productions will run through July 24 at The Sontag Greek Theatre at Pomona College in Claremont. The festival, co-sponsored by Pomona College, includes exhibits, arts and crafts by community businesses and organizations. Tickets are available at www.opheliasjump.org, or by calling 909-541-5850.

Photo Flash: MACBETH, opening tonight at The Old Globe

Macbeth, directed by Brian Kulick and starring Jonathan Cake as Macbeth and Marsha Stephanie Blake as Lady Macbeth, now through July 24th at The Old Globe in San Diego. www.theoldglobe.org. Click HERE for more photos of the production.

Jonathan Cake as Macbeth and Marsha Stephanie Blake stars as Lady Macbeth in William Shakespeare's Macbeth, directed by Brian Kulick, running June 19 - July 24, 2016 at The Old Globe. Photo by Jim Cox.

Jonathan Cake and Marsha Stephanie Blake. All photos by Jim Cox.

(foreground from left) Timothy D. Stickney as Banquo and Jonathan Cake as Macbeth with the cast of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, directed by Brian Kulick, running June 19 - July 24, 2016 at The Old Globe. Photo by Jim Cox.

(foreground from left) Timothy D. Stickney as Banquo and Jonathan Cake as Macbeth with the cast of Macbeth.

Marsha Stephanie Blake stars as Lady Macbeth and Jonathan Cake as the title role of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, directed by Brian Kulick, running June 19 - July 24, 2016 at The Old Globe. Photo by Jim Cox.

Marsha Stephanie Blake and Jonathan Cake

Marsha Stephanie Blake stars as Lady Macbeth and Jonathan Cake as the title role of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, directed by Brian Kulick, running June 19 - July 24, 2016 at The Old Globe. Photo by Jim Cox.

Marsha Stephanie Blake and Jonathan Cake

Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford’s ROMEO AND JULIET Comes to the Big Screen

Kenneth Branagh’s new version of Romeo and Juliet is coming to the big screen for one night only, July 7 at 7:30 pm. Presented by Fathom Events, Picturehouse Entertainment, and the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company in select cinemas, this modern take on Shakespeare’s classic love story will be shown in high-definition black and white and reunites the stars of Branagh and Rob Ashford’s film Cinderella, Richard Madden and Lily James, who play Romeo and Juliet. It also stars Derek Jacobi as Mercutio and Meera Syal as The Nurse.

ROMEO AND JULIET
Thursday, July 7, 2016
7:30 pm (local time)
Run Time: 2 hours 45 minutes (with one intermission)
Tickets and More Info

Kate Jopson to Adapt and Direct Twelfth Night for Coeurage Theatre Company

Twelfth Night - coeurage
Coeurage Theatre Company has announced that Kate Jopson will adapt and direct its upcoming production of Twelfth Night, which begins performances July 15 at GTC Burbank. Interpreted through a lens of social consciousness and supported by Shakespeare’s timeless text, this production will take a critical look at cultural isolation and the beautiful, dark, and deeply human longing to belong.

Escaping the turbulence of their homeland, Viola (Amielynn Abellera) and Sebastian (Robert Paterno) risk a perilous journey to Illyria hoping to find security and a new life. When their boat sinks and the twins fear each other dead, the adventure truly begins. Welcome to an Illyria peopled by street musicians, eccentric young affluence, immigrants, and the media-obsessed in Twelfth Night.

The ensemble also includes Nardeep Khurmi (Orsino), Dieterich Gray (Toby), Leilani Smith (Maria), Graham Kurtz (Andrew), Lillian Solange (Olivia), Hannah Tamminen (Olivia), Rodrigo Brand (Malvolio), Kamar Elliott (Antonio), Jaime Barcelon (Captain/Officer 1), Miranda LeRae (Maria’s Assistant/Officer 2), and Randolph Thompson.

Scenic design is by JR Bruce, lighting design is by Bo Tindell, and costume design is by Benita Elliott. Original music is composed by Oscar Moncada, and the stage manager is Katheryn Bryant.


Director Kate Jopson is Artistic Director of The Flagship Ensemble, Associate Artistic Director of Circle X Theatre Company, and co-founder of the devising group Hephaestus Co. She has directed site-specific, immersive, and traditional theatre in San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles. Jopson has assisted at the Seoul Arts Center, La Jolla Playhouse, Theatre @ Boston Court, A.C.T, CalShakes, and The Magic Theatre. She was Experience Director for Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre and Associate Artistic Director for Woman’s Will, and has been a guest lecturer at UC San Diego and CU Boulder.

TWELFTH NGHT
July 15 – August 13, 2016 (opening night 7/16)
Coeurage Theatre Company at GTC Burbank
1100 W. Clark Avenue
Burbank, CA 91506
Street parking is available
Reservations: (323) 944-2165 or Coeurage.org/twelfth-night
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8pm. All seats are Pay What You Want.

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