Ophelia’s Jump Presents The Merry Wives of Windsor and Macbeth at the Sontag Greek Theater

Ophelia's Jump - Wives and Macbeth posterShakespeare’s hilarious, tongue-in-cheek comedy, Merry Wives of Windsor, and his cutthroat tale of corruptive power, Macbeth, will be presented in repertory at Pomona College’s beautiful Sontag Greek Theater in Claremont. Produced in cooperation with The Pomona College Department of Theatre and Dance, performances begin July 17 and will run through the 27, with founding artistic director, Beatrice Casagran directing Merry Wives and associate artistic director Kevin Slay directing Macbeth.

Set in the late 1960s, Shakespeare’s works will be given a fresh, colorful perspective in the amphitheater which was originally built in 1910 and renovated in 1997.

In The Merry Wives of Windsor, two married women (and their money) are pursued by the rotund and rambunctious Falstaff. But the ladies see right through his plots, and form a few of their own. Mischief and hysteria follow, with lovers and lechers chasing after what they truly desire.  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 CityShakes@gmail.com to reserve a seat. For more information, visit www.CityShakes.org.

Review: A Noise Within’s Dark World of MACBETH

Elijah Alexander and Jules Willcox. Photos by Craig Schwartz

Elijah Alexander and Jules Willcox. Photos by Craig Schwartz

The bleak and barren world in A Noise Within’s Macbeth is as much an outward visual of the inner state of Shakespeare’s title character as it is the setting for the story itself. Moody, shrouded in shadows, and sparsely but strikingly accented, it has the look and feel of a timeless purgatory.

The design team’s color palette rarely strays into anything brighter than black and dark earth tones but, when it does, its dramatic flourishes are striking: a vermilion gown for Lady Macbeth (costumed by Jenny Foldenauer), a macabre funhouse-inspired mouth literally at the gate of hell attended by the Porter (rendered by Susan Gratch), and crayon colored puppet witches (constructed by Sean T. Cawelti) manipulated by tall, slender men in black. Gratch (who is also responsible for the lighting in addition to the scenic design) uses a blood red fog to illuminate the witches and overhead instruments to cast shadows over the warriors, creating an effect that turns their eyes into empty, black sockets making them look like walking wraiths. [pictured below left Elijah Alexander, and right, Alexander with Leith Burke as Banquo]

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L-R: Jeremy Rabb (Celebrant Witch 3), Thom Rivera (Celebrant Witch 2), & Amin El Gamal (Celebrant Witch 1)


Elijah Alexander Goes Deep Into the Psyche of Macbeth

Elijah Alexander as Macbeth. Photo credit: Craig Schwartz

Elijah Alexander in A Noise Within’s Macbeth. Photo credit: Craig Schwartz

Stepping into the role of Macbeth is not for the faint of heart. It’s a dark spiral of a ride that requires an actor to completely immerse himself in the evolution of evil within a character. Classically-trained actor, Elijah Alexander, talks about his journey preparing to play the role for A Noise Within and what he’s learned from touring the country in this fascinating in-depth interview.

Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most well-known villains. What appeals to you about playing such a complicated character?

E: It is, indeed, a complicated one but a wonderfully complicated one because you get to delve into his imagination and his intuition in a very intense and surgical way. You get to play the spectrum because Macbeth’s journey is both an evolution and a devolution. It’s open to interpretation but the director, Larry Carpenter, and I think that for this production Macbeth becomes more self-actualized as the play progresses and not less. It wasn’t interesting to me to write it off as madness or insanity. That’s too easy. We wanted to discover what it was that Macbeth was becoming as the play progresses. Does he become a tyrant, and if so, is it by choice? Is it by accident? Is it by mystical support? Is it by his own willful intention? What are his choices and what are not his choices. Does he have a hand in his own destiny or not? Those are the questions that this role, and this play, asks and demands of the actor. For any actor it is wonderfully challenging and a lot of fun.  More

Larry Carpenter’s Dark Vision for A Noise Within’s MACBETH

A Noise Within continues its 2013-14 season with Macbeth, opening on Saturday, March 15 at 8pm. Directed by Tony Award nominee Larry Carpenter, this marks the first time in eleven years that the company has presented Shakespeare’s dark tragedy, which portrays the violent ambition of Macbeth and his wife, whose ascension to the Scottish throne through bloody means, ultimately causes their own demise.

Larry Carpenter talks about his vision: “I’ve directed a lot of Shakespeare, but this play is the one I keep returning to: fantastically well-constructed, it contains some of the Bard’s absolute best poetry. Macbeth is a present tense event where the characters dance with evil forces, and my staging includes the audience as participants. I am struck by the counterpoints of barrenness (which allows evil in) and fertility (that safeguards the future of the kingdom), and by Macbeth’s driving egoism. In many ways, his narcissism and grandiosity–coupled with an unwavering ambition for power and notoriety–mirror aspects of our current American condition and character.”  More

Ophelia’s Jump Announces Midsummer Elizabethan Festival in 2014

Ophelia's Jump
Ophelia’s Jump Productions has announced a new partnership with the Pomona College Department of Theatre and Dance: Theatre for the Claremont Colleges, and a number of shows to be produced in 2014.

Shakespeare fans will be happy to note that next summer Ophelia’s Jump will inaugurate a Midsummer Elizabethan Festival in repertory as they present Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, directed by founding artistic director Beatrice Casagran, July 17 – 27, 2014 and Macbeth, directed by associate artistic director Kevin Slay, July 18 – 26, 2014. Performances will take place in the Sontag Greek Theatre. In addition, the company will present 33 Variations by Moises Kaufman September 5 – 14, 2014 in the Allen Theatre.

“This relationship ends our nomadic ways and gives Ophelia’s Jump an opportunity to produce our shows at venues matching the artistic and technical needs of our ambitious 2014 season,” says Casagran. “The collaboration also affords Ophelia’s Jump artists and Pomona College Theatre faculty the opportunity to collaborate on projects and community outreach thus making Claremont a hub of serious theatrical production and innovation for the east San Gabriel and Inland Empire regions.”

Ophelia’s Jump will also continue its partnership with dA Center for the Arts in Pomona. Their subscription series includes:

February 21 – March 9, 2014
By David Mamet
Directed by Beatrice Casagran
dA Blackbox Theatre

May 23 – June 1, 2014
By Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Doug Oliphant
Seaver Theatre, Pomona College

July 17 – 27, 2014
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Founding Artistic Director, Beatrice Casagran
The Sontag Greek Theatre, Pomona College

July 18 – 26, 2014
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Kevin Slay
The Sontag Greek Theatre, Pomona College

September 5 – 14, 2014
By Moises Kaufman
Allen Theatre, Pomona College

For more information, visit www.opheliasjump.org.

Review: California Shakespeare Ensemble Highlights Shakespeare’s VILLAINS

CSE - Villains

Jeremy Radin as Shylock and Aaron Leddick as Tubal

Shakespeare’s plays are full of bad guys, or at least plenty of men and women who exhibit bad behavior often enough to be considered bad guys. Angelo in Measure For Measure, Hamlet’s uncle Claudius, and the bastards – Much Ado’s Don John and King Lear’s Edmund – certainly qualify, as does the power-hungry Lady Macbeth. Their motives may vary but, at the core, each is able to justify his or her evil actions as reasonable.

In California Shakespeare Ensemble’s latest production, director Brian Elerding has adapted the text from three of Shakespeare’s plays and crafted an episodic production starring three of his more complicated villains: Macbeth (Russ Bain), Shylock (Jeremy Radin), and Tybalt (Shahaub Roudbari). Rather than intertwining the story lines, each man’s tale remains self-contained and scenes cut back and forth between Scotland (Macbeth), Verona (Romeo and Juliet) and Venice (The Merchant of Venice), in essence making each villain the main focus of his own playlet.  More

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: www.cityshakes.org

Review: Savage Players’ MACBETH – Intense But Not Intimate

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Colin Simon (Macbeth) and Adrienne Hertler (Lady Macbeth. Photo credit: Jenn Spain

When I read this paragraph from Savage Players’ press materials for Macbeth, it had the desired effect. It made me want to see the production.

“While textually faithful to Shakespeare, Savage Players plans a ‘poetic, austere staging’ that encompasses the audience and blurs the traditional lines of stage and audience. The production aims to create an intimate, intense experience for the audience in which we are no longer able to separate ourselves from the world of Macbeth.”

That sounded like a pretty intriguing vision to me and I was looking forward to experiencing this intense Macbeth of blurred lines. After seeing so many versions of the play, one welcomes an approach that promises to bring something new to the table. But instead of finding an intimate world that surrounds the audience, I found myself sitting in a large finished warehouse space with so much staging area between players and public that intimacy was never part of the equation.  More

Savage Players Presents MACBETH at Live Arts Los Angeles

Savage Players - Macbeth

Following last season’s critically lauded production of The Psychic Life of Savages at Los Angeles Theatre Center, Savage Players returns at a new venue, performing Shakespeare’s classic drama of better ideals overwhelmed by misguided ambition, and the runaway exercise of unchecked imperial power leading to extravagant bloodshed and then, revolution.

Why has Macbeth become Shakespeare’s most currently popular drama? Because it resonates with people living in the 21st century. And how. While textually faithful to Shakespeare, Savage Players plans a “poetic, austere staging” that encompasses the audience and blurs the traditional lines of stage and audience. The production aims to create an intimate, intense experience for the audience in which we are no longer able to separate ourselves from the world of Macbeth.

Alex Levy directs a cast that includes Sam Bianchini, Steven Scot Bono, Walt Gray IV, Adrienne Hertler, Michelle Holmes, Evan Lipkin, Cassandra Nwokah, Bob Rodriguez, Colin Simon, Austin Caleb Slavens and Joe Tower. Levy holds an MFA in Directing from UCLA (where he has also taught) and has helmed shows in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, India, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Morocco.

The production team also includes Julia Keefe (sound design/composer), Colin Simon (fight choreograph), Desirae Hepp (scenic design), Pablo Santiago (lighting design), Melanie Fairchild (costume design), Christina Bryan (stage manager) and Lauren Hadnot (assistant stage manager). Macbeth is produced by Lauren Dunagan. Josephine Keefe is associate producer.

Previews Oct. 18 at 8 pm. Show opens Saturday, Oct. 19at 8:00 pm and runs through Nov. 17. Show times: Friday and Saturday at 8:00, Sunday at 7:00. Tickets are $20. Students, seniors, and preview, $10. For reservations call (310) 853-0712 or visit www.savageplayers.com/tickets

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