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.


First Look: Independent Shakespeare Co.’s THE TEMPEST

The Tempest, now through September 4th, part of Independent Shakespeare Co.’s Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival. Performances run Wed-Sun at 7pm. For more information, visit www.iscla.org or call 818-710-6306.


Thom Rivera as Prospero (left), Kalean Ung as Ariel (center) and Patrick Batiste & Nathan Nonhof as Spirits. Photos by Grettel Cortes


Evan Lewis Smith as Ferdinand and Erika Soto as Miranda


Lorenzo González as Trinculo, Sean Pritchett as Caliban and David Melville as Stephano


Thom Rivera as Prospero and Erika Soto as Miranda


Lorenzo González as Trinculo and David Melville as Stephano

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: www.iscla.org or call 818-710-6306

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

Independent Shakespeare Co. Brings Richard III and The Tempest to Griffith Park

RICHARD III - Photo By Mike Ditz

David Melville as Richard III. Photo credit: Mike Ditz

For the past 13 years, Independent Shakespeare Co. has brought free Shakespeare to L.A. audiences. This summer, they’re back in Griffith Park with two of Shakespeare’s most popular works: Richard III, directed by Melissa Chalsma, and The Tempest, directed by Matthew Earnest.

Managing Director David Melville says, “This is our most ambitious summer: Not only are we bringing both Richard III and The Tempest to Griffith Park for the first time, but both productions feature live music played by the company members themselves, extraordinary design, and one of the strongest casts we’ve assembled, featuring many ISC favorites as well as new faces.”

“We’re also extremely excited to welcome internationally recognized director Matthew Earnest (Co-Founder of The Lunar Stratagem, Associate Artist at Germany’s English Theater Berlin, Founding Artistic Director of deep ellum ensemble, former assistant director to Adrian Hall), as director of The Tempest. It’s the first time his work has been seen in Los Angeles, and we’re thrilled to bring his unique sensibility to our wonderful Griffith Park audience.”  More

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

Review: ISC Presents a Smart, Strong OTHELLO in the Studio


Evan Lewis Smith as Othello. Photo credit: Grettel Cortes

Something interesting happens when you remove race as the primary motivator in Shakespeare’s Othello. The play’s message about the progression of evil becomes even more universal. What was a story about a man destroying another man because of the color of his skin is now part of a larger more enigmatic narrative exploring hate, jealousy, and obsession from a less obvious perspective. It also reveals how masterfully Shakespeare wrote the nuances of human frailty.

Independent Shakespeare Co. and director Melissa Chalsma explore this spin on Othello’s message by casting the company with a multiethnic group of actors. They do it regularly in their Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival productions to reflect the cultural make-up of Los Angeles and to make the work as accessible and inclusive as possible.

Here it is particularly significant because it downplays the white vs. black struggle and instead focuses the audience’s attention on what goes on in Iago’s mind. It allows us to witness the corruption evolve from beginning to horrible end and to see these two characters not as a black man and a white man but simply as men. In this kind of scenario, Shakespeare’s words take on radically new colors, to the delight of audience members who may have seen the play before and think they know what to expect.  More

Celebrate Love and Shakespeare on the Metro for Valentine’s Day

Love's Fire

“O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?”

“Getting ready to take the Metro, my love. All aboard!”

Independent Shakespeare Co. partners with Metro Art Moves for a unique way to celebrate love, Shakespeare, and the city of Los Angeles this Valentine’s Day. You’re invited to “Go Metro” for a free tour that explores artwork in the Metro system accompanied by scenes from some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays on the topic of love.

The 2 ½-hour tour begins at Union Station at 2pm (meet at the information booth in the Alameda Street entrance) and ends at the Hollywood/Western Red Line station. You don’t need a reservation but attendance is limited to the first 50 people so plan to be there early, and make sure you wear comfortable shoes.

The Metro Art Moves program regularly offers special tours and other performing arts programming in a wide range of disciplines to enhance and engage Angelenos – everything from music, dance, and poetry readings to films screenings and photography installations. It’s an innovative way to experience art and culture in unexpected places. Who doesn’t love that?!

Saturday, February 14 at 2:00 pm
Union Station
FREE – limited to 50 attendees
For more info about ISC: www.iscla.org
For more about the Metro Art Moves series: Metro Art Tours

Shakespeare Preview: What to See in 2016

SHappy New Year and welcome back Shakespeare lovers! 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death (April 23, 1564 – April 23, 1616) and that means it’s another big year ahead honoring one of the greatest writers of all time. Here’s a look at what’s coming so get out your calendars and make note.

Antaeus Theatre Company starts the year with its popular ClassicsFest reading series featuring four plays in January and February. Among them are Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard’s Tony Award-winning absurdist play, initiated by Bo Foxworth and Adrian LaTourelle, directed by John Henry Davis (Jan. 17 & 18), and Shakespeare’s classic The Winter’s Tale, initiated and directed by Elizabeth Swain (Jan. 31 & Feb. 1). These member-driven developmental readings are often the first step in the company’s progression to a fully-staged production and are a great way to become immersed in the plays. www.antaeus.org

For Valentine’s Day, A Noise Within will present Romeo & Juliet directed by Dámaso Rodríguez. Rodriguez is currently artistic director at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland but is well-known in LA. from his time spent as associate artistic director of the Pasadena Playhouse and co-artistic director of Furious Theatre Company. In his streamlined interpretation of the story, he says, “the design and concept will evoke a street performance in an economically and socially repressed, centuries-old city.” It will remain focused on the play’s primary relationships and feature a diverse cast, original music by Martin Carrillo, and minimal props and costumes. A pre-show discussion will take place Feb. 17 prior to the performance at 6pm. Post-show conversations with the cast will follow the 8pm performances on March 18, April 8 & 29, and May 8 (2pm). www.anoisewithin.org

The Ensemble Shakespeare Theater has been developing an original work based on the fascinating character of Queen Margaret who appears in Henry VI Parts 1-3 and Richard III. Shakespeare’s Rose Queen is told from Margaret’s point of view and runs Feb. 20 – March 3 at Lineage Performing Arts Center in Pasadena. Starring Megan Rippey as Margaret, Rose Queen’s gritty story will feature battles choreographed as movement pieces by Lineage Dance Company’s artistic director, Hilary Thomas, and other new elements of storytelling in an intimate theater setting. The cast also includes Brian White as Suffolk/Edward, Natalie Fryman as Eleanor/Richard III, Jay Blair as Henry VI, Sonny Calvano as Warwick, and other to be announced. Shakespeare’s Rose Queen follows previous original works by the company – Shakespeare’s Lovers and its international hit, Shakespeare’s Villains. www.californiashakespeare.org


Independent Shakespeare Co. produces Original Play, Strange Eventful History


Erika Soto, Sam Breen, and David Melville star in Strange Eventful History. Photo by Reynaldo Macias/blu PHIV Photography

Independent Shakespeare Co. presents an original studio production, Strange Eventful History, by David Melville, William Shakespeare, and Christopher Marlowe, beginning October 22 in the Independent Studio in Atwater Village.

In the new work, an actor (David Melville) is preparing to play Richard III in a rapidly approaching production. Unfortunately, his leading lady just quit, and her replacement (Erika Soto) doesn’t have the faintest idea what’s happening. Adding to the confusion, the director is nowhere to be found and his stage manager (Sam Breen) has it in for him. As the three characters wrestle with the complicated family soap opera that is the history of England’s royalty, they uncover truths about Shakespeare’s kings (and queens) and bring the history plays to life.

Directed by ISC company member Joseph Culliton, the play interweaves the works of Shakespeare and Marlowe with new, scripted narrative, Strange Eventful History is a humorous and vivid ride through 10 plays and 150 years of British war.

October 22 – November 22, 2015 (opening night (10/24)
Independent Shakespeare Co.
Independent Studio
3191 Casitas Ave. #168
Los Angeles, CA 90039

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