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.

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.


Children’s Theatre of Long Beach Presents Free Shakespeare in Bixby Park

LB Childrens Midsummer

Children’s Theatre of Long Beach will present a 90-minute performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Bixby Park at the Bandshell Stage, July 22-24. The family-friendly show is produced in partnership with Friends of Bixby Park and offers free admission and an audience participation pre-show. Bring your low-back chars, blankets and a picnic dinner to enjoy in the park and get ready for a fun, physical production full of laughs. It’s a great way to introduce the whole family to Shakespeare!

July 22, 23 & 24, 2016
Children’s Theatre of Long Beach
Bixby Park (at the Bandshell Stage)
130 Cherry Ave, Long Beach, CA 90802
More info: www.childrenstheatreoflongbeach.org

Kingsmen’s Upcoming MIDSUMMER has Special Meaning for Director Brett Elliott

Midsummer - Kingsmen

L-R: Pallavi Srinivasan (Peaseblossom), Marc Silver (Bottom) and Nawal Bengholam i(Titania). Photo by Brian Stethem/Cal Lutheran.

It was a moment of art becoming life for Kingsmen Shakespeare Company’s associate artistic director, Brett Elliott, when he played Lysander in the festival’s revival of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2006. That was the year he proposed to his wife, Jane, onstage while she played opposite him in the role of Hermia.

To make it even more romantic (get ready to swoon ladies) Elliott used only Shakespeare’s text, and neither he nor Jane stopped the scene or broke character. He did add a single prop – a real diamond ring.

For this production, opening July 15, the roles of Lysander and Hermia will be played by Cal Lutheran alumnus Seta Wainiqolo, a graduate student at Yale School of Drama, and Angela Gulner, a graduate of the American Repertory Theater Institute at Harvard University. Gulner played Viola two years ago in the company’s production of Twelfth Night and was last seen as the French princess, Katherine, in Henry V.

Elliott sets the play in a world reminiscent of the British Raj in India at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution because he has long been struck by several references to the Indian subcontinent in the play. He says the setting is “a place where the logic and technology of the West rubs against the art and spirit of the East, where the ancient mingles with the modern, where love crosses all boundaries, and where all who enter the forest emerge changed.” Resident composer Christopher Hoag has created an orchestral score with a Hindustani Classical influence for the play.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream follows the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors, the mechanicals, who are all controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set. It was also the first play performed by Kingsmen Shakespeare Company for its festival in 1997.

In addition to Wainiqolo and Gulner, the cast will also feature returning Kingsmen veterans Andy Babinski as Philostrate, Michael Faulkner as Theseus, Ross Hellwig as Demetrius, Robert Nairn as Starveling, Jason D. Rennie as Puck, Marc Silver as Bottom and John Slade as Quince. Company newcomer Nawal Bengholam will play Titania. Ty Mayberry follows his title role in Henry V by playing Oberon. In another real life coincidence, Mayberry’s two young sons, Lucas and Leo, will make their stage debut as Changelings.

July 15 – 31, 2016 (8pm)
Kingsmen Park on the Thousand Oaks campus of California Lutheran University
Festival grounds open at 5:30 pm for picnicking and entertainment.
General admission is $20 for adults and free for children under 18. Individual tickets are available at the door only. For lawn box reservations, visit kingsmenshakespeare.org or call 805-493-3452. The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company is the professional theater company of Cal Lutheran.

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


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.

ISC to Bring Bottom’s Dream to the Central Library for Free Performance

Midsummer ISC Bottom2
The Made in L.A. cultural series is offering a special free performance of Independent Shakespeare Co.’s Bottom’s Dream, a Whimsical Re-telling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Sunday, May 15 downtown at the Central Library. The performance begins at 2pm in the library’s Mark Taper Auditorium. Space is limited. For complete details, to make a reservation, and to read the standby policy go to Lapl.me or call (213) 228-7388.

ISC presents the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival each summer and this family-friendly performance is a great prelude to their upcoming season, which includes Shakespeare’s Richard III and The Tempest performed on an outdoor stage in Griffith Park.

In its quest to build community and bring quality entertainment to all of Los Angeles, ISC continues to create theatre that appeals to a contemporary audience and form partnerships with other city and community organizations that share its mission.

ISC’s co-founder David Melville will also lead a class at Palms Rancho Park Library on Tuesday, May 24 from 6m – 8pm. In this session he will introduce audience members to the history and fundamentals of lyrical verse speaking, beginning with Chaucer and moving through Shakespeare’s English.

Made in LA Image Logo

For more about Made in L.A.’s cultural series of free performances visit Lapl.org/madeinla.

Photo of Danny Campbell as Bottom and Melissa Chalsma as Titania by Grettel Cortes Photography

Kingsmen Shakespeare Company Hosts a Free Shakespeare-a-thon this weekend

Kingsmen - Midsummer

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo credit: Brian Stethem/Cal Lutheran

Looking for a fun way to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death? Take a drive up to the campus of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks for the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company’s Shakespeare-a-thon on Saturday and Sunday, April 23 & 24.

They’ll be celebrating with 24 hours of activities including a sonnet marathon, a candlelight reading of Macbeth and Shakespeare yoga. It’s a free Bard-day bash beginning with a welcome reception at 4pm on the 23rd, which is the date of Shakespeare’s death and also, according to tradition, his birth in 1564.

Events will continue with a game at 6:30 pm, a panel discussion on setting plays in traditional and alternative settings at 7 pm, and an interactive Shakespeare slam at 8 pm. Macbeth will be read by candlelight at 9:30 pm. and musical works inspired by the Bard will be played starting at midnight.

Additional events include a presentation on the concept of time in Romeo and Juliet at 5:30 pm by Bill Walthall, a former high school English and drama teacher in Oxnard who writes The Bill Shakespeare Project blog. Then at 6 pm, the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company’s Shakespeare Educational Tour will give a workshop demonstration.

April 24 will begin with yoga incorporating Shakespeare quotations at 8am (just think about that for a moment) and continue with a sonnet brunch at 10:30, a cabaret 11:30, and conclude with a reception at 3:30 pm. A panel of actors will share their experiences portraying Hamlet at 9:30 am and a full reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which will be featured at this year’s summer festival, will begin at 12:30 pm. Also part of the summer festival is Henry V, an educational tour to local schools, an apprentice company, and a theater camp.

Throughout the marathon, visitors will be able to step into a video-recording booth to talk about their connections to Shakespeare and the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company. Snippets will be shared prior to the closing reception.

All events will be held in or around Overton Hall, which is located on the south side of Memorial Parkway near Regent Avenue. Free parking is available in the lots at the corner of Olsen Road and Mountclef Blvd.

If you can’t make it in person, the Shakespeare-a-thon will also be streamed live at CalLutheran.edu/live. For more information, go to KingsmenShakespeare.org/400-years.

Arena Cinema Presents Free Shakespeare Film Series

bbcshakespeareposter_240_356_81_s_c1Mark your calendars now: Arena Cinema Hollywood is commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death by presenting a Free Shakespeare film series. While the films are free, you must still make a reservation online at ArenaScreen.com or by calling (323) 306-0676. The Shakespeare series runs April 22 – 28 at Arena Cinema Hollywood, 1625 N. Las Palmas Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90028. Here’s what’s on the docket:

As You Like It
Sat. April 23 at 4:00 and Tues. April 26 at 5:30
This U.S. premiere is directed by Michael Elliott and Ronald Eyre and stars Vanessa Redgrave, Patrick Allen, Ian Richardson, Patsy Byrne, Max Adrian and Patrick Wymark. BBC Worldwide North America. B&W, 1963 U.K., 135 minutes.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Sunday, April 24 at 7:40; Thurs. April 28 at 5:30
Also a U.S. premiere, it is directed by James Cellan Jones and produced by Cedric Messina, starring Lynn Redgrave, Eileen Atkins, Michael Gambon, Edward Fox, Eleanor Bron, Robert Stephens and Ronnie Barker. Set in Edwardian England and filmed in and around Scotney Castle in Kent. BBC Worldwide North America. Color, 1971, U.K., 120 minutes.

King Lear
Sun. April 24 at 5:00; Mon. April 25 at 7:10
Directed and adapted by Richard Eyre, this National Theater production is done in a sparse modernistic style and stars Ian Holm, Victoria Hamilton, Amanda Redman, Barbara Flynn, Timothy West and Paul Rhys. BBC Worldwide North America. Color, 1998, U.K./U.S.A., 150 minutes.

The Taming of the Shrew
Sat. Apr. 23 at 9:55 p.m.; Tues. April 26 at 7:50
Directed by David Richards, adapted by Sally Wainwright and produced by Diederick Santer starring Shirley Henderson, Rufus Sewell, Santiago Cabrera, Twiggy Lawson, Jaime Murray and David Mitchell. In this sexy update, Kate is a Member of Parliament who marries up in order to advance her goal of becoming a party leader. BBC Worldwide North America. Color, 2005, U.K., 90 minutes.

Chimes at Midnight
Fri. Apr. 22 at 6:30; Sat. Apr. 23 at 6:20; Wed. April 27 at 7:10; Thurs. April 28 at 7:35
Directed by Orson Welles. Adapted by Welles from Henry IV, Part One; Henry IV, Part Two; and Henry V and The Holinshed Chronicles. Produced by Harry Saltzman, Emiliano Piedra and Angel Escolano. Starring Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Keith Baxter, John Gielgud, Margaret Rutherford and Marina Vlady. Orson Welles as Falstaff in one of Welles’ finest achievements. Janus Films. B&W, 1967, France/Spain/Switzerland, 113 minutes.

Sun. Apr. 24 at 3:30; Mon. Apr. 25 at 5:30. Wed. Apr. 27 at 5:30
Directed and adapted by Bruce Ramsay. Produced by Ramsay, Joseph Gould and John Cassini. Starring Bruce Ramsay, Lara Gilchrist, Peter Wingfield, Gillian Barber, John Cassini and Duncan Fraser. This modern-dress version of the story of the melancholy Danish prince and the intrigues surrounding his family is set in postwar London. Breaking Glass Pictures. Color, 2014, Canada, 88 minutes.

Discounted parking is available with validation at lots adjacent to the venue and across the street.

Theatricum Botanicum Announces 2016 Summer Season

Theatricum 2016 seasonIn 2016 we celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death and, in Topanga Canyon, Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum will feature three of Shakespeare’s classics as part of its upcoming summer season. Romeo and Juliet, Titus Andronicus, and the company’s signature production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will join Tom, a world premiere adaptation with music and The Imaginary Invalid for another spectacular season outdoor under the oaks.

Here is the complete season which has been chosen to shine a light on current social issues both timely and significant in this important election year. The company will examine:

The Middle East through the lens of Shakespeare:
The repertory season kicks off on June 4 with Romeo and Juliet, set in East Jerusalem. Director Ellen Geer elucidates the continued relevance of this 421-year-old play, setting Shakespeare’s tale of forbidden love and warring families in a city beset by age-old prejudices, street violence and religious differences.  More

Working with Suzuki Master Teacher Ellen Lauren on A “California” Midsummer Night’s Dream

The cast of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photos by Michael Lamont

The cast of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photos by Michael Lamont

A very special production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is on stage right now at UCLA, presented by the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. It features second- and third- year M.F.A. students from UCLA TFT’s Department of Theater and is unique because it is being directed by Ellen Lauren, co-artistic director of New York’s SITI Company and UCLA Visiting Associate Professor.

For the past 30 years, Lauren has been an associate artist with the Suzuki Company of Toga (SCOT) based in Japan under the direction of Tadashi Suzuki. A faculty member at The Juilliard School of Drama at Lincoln Center since 1995, she is also a recipient of the TCG Fox Fellowship for Distinguished Achievement, and founding member of the International Symposium on the Suzuki Method of Actor Training.

Now, her students are putting into practice the techniques they have been studying with her in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, set in California in the early 1930s. It was a time when thousands migrated from the Dust Bowl states to find a new life and it was also a time of innovation and experimentation in Hollywood. For so many, hardship was alleviated by escaping into the dreamlike world of the darkened movie theaters.  More

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