The Tempest Closes ISC’s Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival


Independent Shakespeare Co. follows its dynamic rock ‘n roll production of Richard III in Griffith Park with Shakespeare’s The Tempest, beginning July 30. Thom Rivera will star as Prospero and the show is directed by Matthew Earnest, former assistant director to Adrian Hall and to Lee Breuer at Mabou Mines

Magic, first love, and the forces of revenge intersect on a mysterious island in The Tempest. Prospero has spent 12 years on an island in exile with his daughter, Miranda, all the while plotting to punish his duplicitous brother using sorcery. But when the opportunity presents itself, he learns that magic doesn’t make the man, the world is stranger than it appears, and that perhaps the past is only history.

This is the first time internationally recognized Matthew Earnest will join ISC as a director. Earnest is celebrated for his stylish, innovative approach to re-imagining classic works. He says, “Prospero is the creator of what is essentially a large-scale immersive theater event. Our anachronistic approach to the design renders Time meaningless in the story of a family split apart and trying to reconcile, except, of course, for the painful fact that years lost from ‘our little life’ can never be regained. Our production’s sculpted, choreographic style centers the landscape of the play on the human body, its miracles and its limitations, and it places the evening’s conversation squarely where it belongs, on the ‘bare, forked thing itself’ – mankind, in his unavoidable, immediate present.”

ISC Managing Director David Melville adds, “The Tempest is Shakespeare’s final play; he was very conscious of his own approaching mortality and his retirement from the stage. The Globe was his little island where he led the narrative and created all these fantastic characters, so when Prospero breaks his staff, it’s akin to Shakespeare putting away his quill. The play is a great choice for the festival because, alongside A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare explores the realm of magic and spirits. It’s a family-friendly play with many fantastical elements, great clowns and a wonderful romantic story. Shakespeare explores the idea of family (he often used the relationship of a father and daughter) and he reaches an apotheosis where the father and daughter are stranded on a desert island. Ultimately it’s a play about forgiveness, one of the most powerful things to experience in life and on stage. It’s a moving story that’s very uplifting.”

In addition to Thom Rivera in the role of Prospero, the cast includes Joseph Culliton (Alonso), William Elsman (Sebastian), Lorenzo González (Trinculo), Faqir Hassan (Antonio), Rudy Márquez (Boatswain), David Melville (Stephano), Sean Pritchett (Caliban), Lester Purry (Gonazlo), Evan Lewis Smith (Ferdinand), Erika Soto (Miranda), and Kalean Ung (Ariel), with Patrick Batiste, April Fritz, Jack Lancaster, Tatiana Louder, Nathan Nonhoff, and Stephany Pesta as Sailors, Passengers & Spirits.

Season production design is by Caitlin Lainoff. Season lighting design is by Bosco Flanagan. Costume design is by William Bezek. Composer and sound design is by Chris Porter.

A pre-show Salon Series discussion led by the director will take place on Sunday, July 31 at 6pm.

July 30 – September 4, 2016
Independent Shakespeare Co.
Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival
Old Zoo, Griffith Park (near 4730 Crystal Spring Dr.)
Performance schedule: Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat & Sun at 7pm
More info: or call 818-710-6306


T.U. Studios Presents a Rock ‘n Roll Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado

A new production of Much Ado About Nothing featuring a rock ‘n roll score will open at T.U. Studios beginning July 30. Shakespeare’s comedy of love, and the hilarity that ensues when two of his most loved characters, Beatrice and Benedick, engage in a sparring match of words. It was revolutionary for its patriarchal time period for featuring a heroine with a sharp tongue and sparkling wit. This pair would later become the prototype for characters portrayed in 20th Century film comedies by actors like Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

Gloria Gifford directs a large cast that includes Tracey Ali, Hayley Ambriz, George Benedict, Raven Bowens, Jeff Hamasaki Brown, Billy Budinich, Marlin Chan, Leana Chavez, Heather Compton, Yvette DeVito, Sonia Diaz, Chad Doreck, Justine Estrada, Joshua Farmer, Joe Filippone, Lindy Fujimoto, Dylan George, Keturah Hamilton, Chris Jones, Abigail Kochunas, Christian Maltez, Sam Mansour, Tahlia McCollum, Alex Miller, Maya Moore, Kelly Musslewhite, Benito Pajr, Nakta Pahlevan, Kasia Pilewicz, Lauren Plaxco, Antonio Roccucci, Cynthia San Luis, Deidra Shanell, Danny Siegel, Tejah Signori, Samiyah Swann, Justin Truesdale, Nancy Vivar, Keith Walker, Lucy Walsh, Jade Warner, Teagan Wilson and Sabrina Won.

July 30 – September 18, 2016
T.U. Studios
10943 Camarillo Ave., North Hollywood, CA 91602.
Limited free parking behind the theater
Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 7:30 pm.
Tickets and Info: (310) 366-5505 or

Review: Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival – The Experience/Richard III

Richard III - ISC

David Melville as Richard III. Photo by Reynaldo Macias

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

How many different ways are there to say how much Angelenos love the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival? Thousands. Ask anyone who’s ever parked themselves on a blanket or lawn chair with their family and friends and you’ll get as many different answers as there are people in the audience.

Some come for the ambience, others to see quality theatre performances at an affordable price (free, but donations are always encouraged). Some simply want to enjoy the sense of community the event fosters, and still others are there to learn, to converse, or to challenge themselves with something new.

Regardless, few would argue that sitting out under the stars listening to Shakespeare’s words is a singularly perfect Los Angeles summer tradition. In case you need more convincing, I’ll give you my Top 5 Reasons to go.  More

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.

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

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.

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

June 23 – July 16, 2016
7:30 pm
Sierra Madre Memorial Park
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

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

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.

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
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8pm. All seats are Pay What You Want.

Post Mortem Movement Theater uses movement to explore Hamletmachine

I Was Hamlet
Post Mortem Movement Theater’s I Was Hamlet comes to the Hollywood Fringe Festival following its debut last December at the George Burns Soundstage at UCLA. Adapted by Kyle Johnston, Angel Correa, Emily Josephine, and Angela Lopez (who also directs), the one hour piece is a physical adaptation of Heiner Muller’s Hamletmachine. It explores issues of gender and identity, abuse of power, and the tortured nature of performance by combining the grotesque and the awe-inspiring via dance, acrobatics, and various other physical disciplines.

The company has previously received awards for their Fringe productions of Charivari in Voyeurville and Ravens and Writing Desks. Remaining performances are Friday, June 17 (8pm), Sunday, June 19 (1:30 pm) and Saturday, June 25 (5:30 pm) at Actors Company’s Other Space Theater, 916 N. Formosa Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90046. Tickets:

I was Hamlet

I was Hamlet

Get Your Shakespeare On with Twelfth Night at the Fringe

Twelfth Night
A group of students from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television are currently encoring their production of Twelfth Night at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, following a brief but very successful run on campus. In this Shakespeare classic tale of mistaken identities, audience participation is not only encouraged, it is often unwillingly imposed, so beware! Director Will Block fills us in.

Will, why did you decide to produce Twelfth Night at the Fringe?

The play is incredibly relevant in today’s cell phone obsessed society. All of the characters are so caught up in preserving their own sense of self that they neglect forming personal relationships with anyone around them. Viola and Sebastian serve as a disrupting influence that causes the characters to begin to genuinely reach out to each other, with variously happy and disastrous results. I think this reflects where we are today. My generation, thanks to social media, is so caught up with perception, and less so with communication.

Is there anything particularly unusual about the show?

There is no fourth wall in our production. The actors very much play this play with the audience, not for them or to them or at them. We think this is how these words need to be spoken – acknowledging the audience allows everything to become more active – and it’s a practice that’s becoming rarer and rarer.

Why would fringe-goers love to see it?

This production is full-blooded and bare bones. There are no scenic elements and few costumes. This places a greater emphasis on Shakespeare’s words, and the line of the narrative itself. We think Fringe-goers will appreciate this, as well as our extensive audience participation (get ready to dance).

For tickets and more information go to

MacDeth! Raises Money for Pulse Victims with Friday Performance

Ryan J-W Smith - MacDeth

Award-winning British poet and playwright, Ryan J-W Smith, artistic director of Rogue Shakespeare®, has announced that 100% of the box office of this Friday’s performance of his new verse comedy, MacDeth!, will be donated to the GoFundMe campaign Support Victims of Pulse Shooting.

“Every available ticket has been made ‘Pay What You Can’ – with a suggested donation of $100,” says Smith. “I do not want to politicize what we are doing – we just want to do something to help the victims of this horrific attack. Let’s sell-out Friday night, please give what you can to support those in need, and hopefully this will encourage other shows to do the same. We all live in luxury here, we can all afford to donate a little cash – and at least one night’s work.”

MacDeth! is currently playing at the Ruby Theatre on Hollywood. Friday’s performance starts at 10pm. For tickets and more information, visit

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