Innocent Sleep, CityShakes’ Adaptation of Macbeth Featured at IFS Film Festival

This year’s Independent Filmmakers Showcase will include an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, produced by Santa Monica-based City Shakespeare Company. The screening will take place at Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills on June 1 at 8:10 pm.

Innocent Sleep began as a site-specific theatre production staged in a Santa Monica warehouse in the Fall of 2013. Following its initial run, CityShakes artistic directors Allison Volk and Brooke Bishop decided to continue exploring the intimacy between Shakespeare’s characters and the viewer via film.

Says Volk, who wrote Innocent Sleep, “The film focuses in on Acts I and II of the source text, exploring the emotional dark corners of the night the King is murdered.” In a revolutionary hybrid approach, the script marries bits of Shakespeare’s original text with contemporary dialogue. Bishop calls the film “a piece of feminist speculative fiction that puts the audience in the shoes of Lady Macbeth, and asks the viewer how far they would go to have it all.”

Innocent SleepInnocent Sleep stars Gregory Linington, Leslie O’Carroll, Allison Volk, Colin Martin, David Hartstone, Caylie Rae Kalmbach, Jason Coviello, Leslie O’Carroll, Mallory Marie Wedding, Jordan Leigh, Jennifer DeDominici, Jennifer Lynne Jorgenson, Olivia Hendrick, Kristin Keating, and Mindy Faulkner.

June 1, 2016 at 8:10 pm
Laemmle Musical Hall
9036 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Ticket Link 
The film is also available for pre-order on Vimeo On Demand.
More info:


Trailer: First Look at Macbeth Adaptation, Innocent Sleep

Producers Allison Volk and Brooke Bishop, the team behind Santa Monica’s City Shakespeare Company, have released a trailer for their upcoming film adaptation of Macbeth, Innocent Sleep. The completed film will premiere at a private screening in Los Angeles on October 3rd, before moving on to screenings at film festivals across the country.

Bishop and Volk began exploring the concepts of Macbeth in late 2013, when they produced a stage version of the play with The City Shakespeare Company. Filming took place in Colorado in the fall of 2014.

Adapted for screen by Allison Volk, Innocent Sleep focuses on the night the Macbeths murder King Duncan, played by Ashland Shakespeare Festival veteran Gregory Linington. City Shakes actors Allison Volk, Colin Martin, David Hartstone, Mallory Wedding and Daniel Landberg star in the film alongside several Shakespeare veterans.

“I’d like the film festival process to be a framework for connecting with audiences, to help guide me in the other projects I’m currently working on and perhaps inspire future project,” says Bishop.

Volk adds, “As an actor, you see so many projects go unfinished or drag their feet to completion. It’s incredibly satisfying that this project moves forward so decisively. I’m very excited to share our work with the world.”

For more information, visit

City Shakespeare Company’s Family Un-Friendly Twelfth Night Opens Dec. 5

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Bullying, pot smoking, heavy drinking and sexual innuendo will color The City Shakespeare Company’s no-holds-barred approach to Twelfth Night. The family un-friendly production will open in downtown Santa Monica on Friday, December 5. Opening night will feature red carpet arrivals at 7:30 pm and wine followed by the performance at 8:00 pm.

Normally considered a family favorite, City Shakes is taking a raucous look at the famous text. “I feel like we’re tackling a tacky, zany play that is anything but family-friendly,” states Brooke Bishop, co-artistic director of the company and director of this production. “The tacky vice land of Illyria feels relevant, especially in a world that suppresses those things and tells everyone to be polite.”

The production features fight choreography by company member David Hartstone (who also plays Orsino in this production). “It’s super fun; we’re laughing our butts off in rehearsal,” says Colin Martin, the company technical director and actor playing Sir Toby Belch. “We’re really trying to cram as many laughs in as possible and honor the notion that this is the funniest of Shakespeare’s comedies.”

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December 5 – 20, 2014
Doors open at 7:30 pm
1454 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
There is plenty of metered street parking.
Tickets are $34.99 at
For more information, please visit

Santa Monica Filmmaker Goes International with OTHELLO Adaptation

Othello city shakes
Congratulations to City Shakespeare Company co-founder Allison Volk whose short film adaptation of Othello, which she produced with Loyola Marymount University professor and director, Mikael Kruzriegler has been accepted into the Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespeare Film Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon. Othello will premiere in England on November 6, 2014. The festival is sponsored by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, dedicated to preserving Shakespeare’s home town.

“It feels like a good omen that this news came right at this time,” says Volk. “As artists, we’re always asking ourselves if what we’re doing is hitting the mark. This is like a little gift of validation, and that always feels nice.”

Volk is currently in Niwot, Colorado filming her first feature length film, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth which features a script co-written by her City Shakes co-artistic director Brooke Bishop that takes place on one night in the Macbeth household; the night the king is murdered.

For more information about the second annual Shakespeare Film Festival, visit

Interview: Allison Volk and City Shakes Ponder “To Live or Die” in Life and Art

On Friday, July 11th, The City Shakespeare Company will open a gritty production of Romeo & Juliet that asks: What would you die for? Allison Volk, co-founder of City Shakes who also plays Lady Capulet and Benvolio in the production, offered these thoughts on the subject by members of her company.

What Would You Die For?
By Allison Volk

I asked some of the major players in our production the same question; not what would their characters die for, but what would THEY, the actor, die for? Initially I assumed that everyone would have the same obvious answer, but when I pulled people aside, I suddenly saw how intimately personal the question actually is.  More

City Shakes Produces Macbeth Film Adaptation, The Heat of Deeds

Heat of Deeds city shakes
The City Shakespeare Company invites you to a staged reading of their latest project on May 22nd; a feature film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth titled The Heat of Deeds, currently scheduled to shoot in Boulder, Colorado in September.

“This script is something brand new; it is a hybridization of classic Shakespearean text and modern American English,” says Allison Volk, City Shakes co-founder who wrote the screenplay and is slated to play Katherine, the Lady Macbeth character.

Volk has been recognized for her writing in previous years. In 2013 she won the California Film Award for her short film, Last Ditch Therapy, and earlier this year her full-length play, Rite of Seymour, was produced in East Los Angeles by Drive Theatre Company.

“People will either really, really love it, or really, really hate it,” laughs Brooke Bishop, co-founder of City Shakes and Heat of Deeds director. Both women are excited to share this new project with the community and welcome creative feedback.

“It’s a process,” says Volk, “and we’re all about the journey.”

The Heat of Deeds staged reading will take place at 8 pm on Thursday, May 22nd at 1454 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401. There is plenty of free street parking after 6 pm. Admission is free, but please RSVP to to reserve a seat. For more information, visit

Review: City Shakes Offers a Milder Version of The Merchant of Venice

City Shakes - Merchant of Venice

Front: Allison Volk and David Hartstone. Back: Mallory Wedding, Frank Weidner and David Landberg.

The young, relatively new, City Shakespeare Company is offering a 90-minute modern take on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice now through April 12, but the well-intentioned effort produces mixed results. Any abbreviated adaptation of Shakespeare’s text runs the risk of eliminating moments that show the full colors of his characters but director Brooke Bishop not only edits out much of the conflict and harsh reality of the play, she reduces her characters to types, and the villain Shylock to what feels like a secondary role. The play may be called The Merchant of Venice but it is the moneylender that Shakespeare uses to teach his audience a lesson and without his passion and pain, the story’s impact is marginalized.

Gone is the cultural insight into Antonio (Todd Elliott) and his friends’ mistreatment of the Jew and many of the references that would explain why Shylock (Peter Nikkos) is so bitter and hard of heart. Gone too is the deeper motivation for Shylock’s daughter Jessica (the very sweet Megan Ruble) to run away from her father’s house and marry a Christian, which gives great insight into Shylock’s character. Some of the most eloquent passages have either been dropped to accommodate an actor who is in over his head, or are allowed to remain but are delivered with only the slightest understanding of the text.  More

City Shakes opens The Merchant of Venice with a Red Carpet Masquerade

The City Shakespeare Company is kicking off its 2014 season with a bash. The Santa Monica-based theater company is hosting a red carpet masquerade ball on opening night, Thursday, March 27. Theater-goers will enjoy Hollywood-style red carpet arrivals and complimentary wine starting at 7 pm, followed by a 90-minute performance of The Merchant of Venice. Dancing and prizes for the best masquerade costumes conclude the evening.

The company, which is currently housed in an early 20th century warehouse space located within walking distance of the 3rd Street Promenade, is aware of the controversy that follows this play and City Shakes’ co-artistic directors Allison Volk and Brooke Bishop welcome the challenge with open arms.

Bishop, who is directing the production says, “My hope is that people leave the theater asking questions. If this play sparks a dialogue, if you leave wondering not who was right and who was wrong, but rather if right and wrong even matter at all, I will be ecstatic, and know we’ve done something worth doing.”

Peter Nikkos takes on the role of Shylock adding, “There is Shylock in everyman; my humble goal is to show the audience the ‘everyman’ in Shylock.”

In addition to Nikkos, the cast will include Todd Elliott (Antonio), David Hartstone (Bassanio), Daniel Landberg (Troubadour), Gilbert Martinez (Clown), Frank Raducz Jr. (Lorenzo), Megan Ruble (Jessica), Allison Volk (Portia), Mallory Wedding (Nerissa) and Frank Weidner (Gratiano). City Shakes’ production is adapted and directed by Brooke Bishop and will feature original music written and performed by Daniel Landberg.

March 27 – April 12, 2014
City Shakespeare Company
1454 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
There is plenty of free street parking after 6pm. Doors open at 7:30 pm.
Thursdays/Fridays/Saturdays at 8:00 pm. Sundays April 6 & 13 at 4:00 pm
Tickets ($20):
Thursdays, April 3 & 10 are pay-what-you-can at the door.

City Shakes’ Site-Specific MACBETH to Open on Halloween

City Shakes Macbeth2
The City Shakespeare Company has converted a warehouse unit to be its performance space for Macbeth opening October 31 at 8:00 pm. The space is located behind an empty art gallery at 1454 Lincoln Blvd. near downtown Santa Monica and the company will perform not in the round, but in a pentagon.

Allison Volk and Brooke Bishop, co-founders of the company, chose the location carefully. “All our shows are site-specific, meaning we choose the space according to what the text calls for. We wanted something raw to match the gut-wrenching subject matter,” says Volk, who plays Lady Macbeth.

City Shakes is an ensemble of seven actors whose goal is to use movement and sound to capture the essence of the text in a deeply visceral way. Each actor also plays multiple characters. Jose Espinosa (Banquo and the Porter) says, “This company is unique because we try out every idea, entertain many things, and we’re not afraid of transforming Shakespeare into something different and new and modern.”

Colin Martin, who plays the title role adds, “We’re holding a mirror up to the darker parts of human nature and inviting people to ask themselves some deep questions about hidden motivations: What would it take for you to kill? Do you have it in you?”

City Shakes
Oct. 31 – Nov. 22, 2013
1454 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Street parking is free after 6pm. Doors open at 7:30 pm
Click Here for Tickets ($20)
More info:

Join City Shakespeare Company for Macbeth: A Ceremony

City Shakes Macbeth workshopIn preparation for their fall 2013 run of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, The City Shakespeare Company (City Shakes) will spend Saturday August 3rd exploring the play through movement work, discussion, and an intimate exploration of the text. The workshop culminates in a free, public performance of their work at 6:00 pm.

“This workshop is designed to help our ensemble become more familiar with the essence of the story. We’re finding the ceremony of the play,” says Allison Volk, co-founder and City Shakes actress. She and seven collaborators will make up the day’s group.

“We’ll read, we’ll speak, we’ll play, move, act, create, and explore,” states Brooke Bishop, co-founder of the company and resident director. “And we can’t wait.”

Macbeth: A Ceremony is open and free to the public at 6:00 pm on Saturday, August 3rd at The Huffington Center, part of the St. Sophia Cathedral complex. 1324 S Normandie Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006. Parking is free.

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