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.


ZJU Theatre Group Presents 2nd Annual Underground Fringe in NoHo

OTHELLO - ZJU Theatre Group

This June, Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group brings back its annual Avant-garde Mini-Theatre Festival for the second year in a row.The 3-weekend event will take place at ZJU Theatre Group and showcase two productions:

June 24 & 25 (11pm), July 2 – 30 (8:30pm)
This is Josh T. Ryan and Zombie Joe’s wet n’ wild, high-euro-fashion adaptation of Shakespeare’s tale of love, murder and betrayal, where glamor is a rocky-road and jealousy is a green-eyed monster. Featuring Vanessa Cate as Othello and directed by Josh T. Ryan.

June 3 – 18 (11pm), JUNE 3 thru 18, June 20 & 24 at 8:30 pm.
ZJU Theatre Group’s special classic edition of their signature horror production returns to dive into the depths of inexplicable horrors, unfathomable monstrosities, and the disturbed spirits that walk among us. Directed by Jana Wimer.

ZJU Theatre Group
4850 Lankershim Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Tickets: Zombiejoes.tix.com
More info: Zombiejoes.com
Both productions are recommended for ages 15 and up.

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

Fringe Review: Bright Swords, Very Highly Recommended

Bright Swords

Bright Swords has three essential elements that make it one of the most polished, intelligent, and satisfying productions at Fringe: an elegant performance by Ryan Vincent Anderson, a beautifully written, smart, funny, human script by playwright Rick Creese, and stylish, impeccably focused direction by director Jeffrey Wienckowski.

Alone on stage, Anderson takes the audience through the challenges and triumphs of one of the most important but little-known early actors of the theatre. Ira Aldridge was the first African American to play Othello on a London stage at a time when actors of color were often nothing more than figures to be laughed at. His determination to portray his characters as men rather than stereotypes was revolutionary in the 19th century. He challenged prejudices by remaining true to his artistic heart, declaring he was the best case for abolition and wouldn’t have it any other way.  More

Fringe Spotlight: Bright Swords – The Story of Ira Aldridge

Ryan Vincent AndersonRyan Vincent Anderson will star in Bright Swords by Rick Creese at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival. The one-man show tells the true story of African-American actor Ira Aldridge, who fled racial hatred in New York in 1825, became a star of the European stage, and inspired the successful campaign to end slavery in the British Empire. Talk about making a difference.

In this short interview, Ryan [pictured right in Twelfth Night at the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival] gives us his thoughts about the show and what to expect from Bright Swords. Enjoy!

Ryan, how are rehearsals for the show going?

I have been having a blast with director Jeffrey Wienckowski. I have never done a one man show before so it was exciting to find my footing in the process, which has been going on since May 8th. We work well together because we listen to each other’s instincts and try things out in the moment, rather than over talk issues. This saves a lot of time and makes for a very quick and efficient process. We are kind of like two cooks having fun in the kitchen. Hopefully our dish is received well.  More

Zombie Joe’s Underground Fringe Opens with OTHELLO

ZJU - OthelloZombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group presents Josh T. Ryan and Zombie Joe’s wet n’ wild, high-euro-fashion adaptation of Shakespeare’s tale of love, murder and betrayal, where glamour is a rocky road and jealousy is a green-eyed monster. Directed by Josh T. Ryan, Othello headlines Zombie Joe’s 1st Annual Underground Fringe and will open Saturday, May 30th at 8:30 pm, running Fridays and Saturdays through June 27.

May 30 – June 27, 2015
ZJU Theatre Group
4850 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Tickets: $15
Call: 818-202-4120 or go to ZombieJoes.Tix.com
For more info: ZombieJoes.com

Review: The Porters Present a Prohibition Era OTHELLO

Othello - The Porters

Matt Calloway and Charles Pasternak. Photos by Zachary Andrews

Why does Iago hate the Moor? That has always been the great question in Othello and one for which Shakespeare provides no definitive answer. Yes, he feels slighted when Othello promotes Cassio over him but is that enough reason to plot the general’s demise? Is it because he believes that Othello has slept with his wife, or because of the color of his skin? Or are Iago’s actions fueled by something deeper like self-loathing?

Shakespeare purposely doesn’t answer the question because he is more interested in prompting the audience to draw its own conclusions. The ambiguity is essential to the play although productions will at times highlight one line of reasoning over another in an attempt to give Iago clearer motivation. But that decision robs the play of its mystery and limits the unsettling horror of what happens on stage.  More

Shakespeare Uncovered: Othello with David Harewood

L-R: David Harewood and Adrian Lester at Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London. Photo credit: Andrea Southam

L-R: David Harewood and Adrian Lester at Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London. Photo credit: Andrea Southam

In the fourth installment of Shakespeare Uncovered, airing at 10:00 pm on Friday February 6th, David Harewood asks a very difficult question. Could you kill a person you love? Shakespeare made his audience confront that question when he created the character of Othello 400 years ago. It holds a key to understanding how such a strong warrior could end up so vulnerable that he would actually consider killing his wife. Harewood says, “Whether you love him or hate him, we have to understand Othello. If you don’t understand Othello, I don’t think you understand yourself.”

Harewood was the first black actor to play the Moor at the National Theatre in London, which only took place in 1997. In preparing for the role, he wanted to pinpoint and show how an honorable and noble man could slowly change to a beastly, angry, jealous killer.

He talks to University of London Professor Jerry Brown about what the Elizabethans would have thought of the Moor, and later, to Adrian Lester about how racial prejudices meant that for centuries a black actor couldn’t even play the role. More

Casting Announced for The Porters of Hellsgate’s Production of OTHELLO

Calloway as Achilles

Thomas Bigley and Matt Calloway in The Porters’ 2012 production of Troilus & Cressida

The Porters of Hellsgate present Othello, directed by Thomas Bigley Feb. 28 – March 28 at the Whitmore Theatre in North Hollywood. Othello kicks off The Porters’ ninth season, returning artistic director Charles Pasternak to the stage for The Porters for the first time since his award-nominated performance playing King Henry V just one year ago. Pasternak will star as Iago, with resident artists Matt Calloway in the title role and Eliza Kiss as Desdemona. Associate artistic director Thomas Bigley returns to the director’s seat for the first time since his lauded King Lear in 2013.

The cast will also include Gus Krieger as Roderigo, Alex Parker as Cassio, Hilary Schwartz as Emelia, Jacques Freydont as the Duke of Venice, Sean Faye as Gratiano, Thomas Bigley as the Clown, Christine Sage as Bianca, Evan Lipkin as Montano, Brent D. Christensen as Brabantio, Kipp Moorman as Lodovico, and Michael Bigley and Kyle J. Nash in the ensemble.

Technical credits:
Stage Manager: Alicia Patterson
Costume Design by Jessica Pasternak
Lighting Design by Sterling Hall
Scenic Design by Alex Parker
Sound Design by Nicholas Neidorf

February 28 – March 28, 2015
The Porters of Hellsgate @ The Whitmore Theatre
11006 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, 7pm on Sunday, March 1st, and at 2pm on Sundays, March 8th, 15th, and 22nd. The production will run approximately two hours with one intermission. Click Here for tickets, $20 online; $25 at the door. All major credit cards accepted at the door. Reservation line: (818) 325-2055.

Review: The Illyrian Players Take on OTHELLO

Othello - Illyrian Players
This isn’t the first time the Illyrian Players have taken on Shakespeare. In 2011, the company began its provocative theatrical conversation about gender and sex with Twelfth Night, and since then has given LA a BDSM version of The Taming of the Shrew and a gender reversed Macbeth. In addition to Shakespeare, they have produced a number of new plays; bold, edgy works that set them apart from other theatre companies, led by a vision that sees theatre as “a subversive art form with which to change the world.”

Director Carly D. Weckstein and company now turn their eyes to Shakespeare’s tragedy, Othello, in an exploration of how betrayal, deceit, jealousy, and racism can deeply affect the psyche. The concept is modern and gritty; an expansive black and white world compressed into a small black box theatre with a single striking image on the back wall, conjured as if it were a ghost moon over the River Styx. Indeed, it does at times feel like the devil himself is watching over this tale, sending his masked demons – quite literally – to influence the characters from the shadowland.  More

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