Titus Andronicus Joins Summer Rep Season at Theatricum Botanicum, July 30

Titus Andronicus - Theatricum

Sheridan Crist and Melora Marshall. Photo by Ian Flanders

Leave the children at home for Theatricum Botanicum’s upcoming production of Titus Andronicus, opening July 30. In this violent and disturbing saga of vengeance and retribution, director Ellen Geer explores questions of leadership and the relationship between government and its citizens as the company takes on Shakespeare’s earliest tragedy. It is recommended for mature audiences due to adult themes and violence.

When general Titus Andronicus returns from war with prisoners Queen Tamora, her lover and her sons, he hands over Tamora’s eldest son for sacrifice, and so sets off a bloody cycle of violence that swiftly accelerates out of control.

“Here’s a 400-year-old play that outdoes even the unimaginable horrors we hear about daily in today’s news,” says Geer. “At its core, it’s the story of a government gone awry. These leaders haven’t been elected by the people. They have been put into positions of power by political insiders. They don’t answer to their citizens, but to the gods of greed, envy and revenge.”

Titus Andronicus is often seen as Shakespeare’s early attempt to emulate the popular, bloody revenge plays of his contemporaries. According to dramaturg Isabel Smith-Bernstein, Shakespeare may have set the play in ancient Rome because he was living in a time reminiscent of the cruelties of that era, a time when violence and death were part of everyday life: in sports such as bear baiting and hunting, in public floggings and executions, and in the wars that divided empires. Death was always looming with threats of illness and plague.

Viewing the play as a cautionary tale for our own times, Geer sets Theatricum’s production in the not-too-distant future, making use of Jordan-Marc Diamond’s costumes and an original soundscape created by composer Marshall McDaniel to define time and place.

Sheridan Crist stars in the title role, with Marie-Françoise Theodore as Queen Tamora; Michael McFall as Tamora’s lover, Aaron; Christopher W. Jones as Saturninus; Willow Geer as Lucia; Mark Lewis as Publius; and Melora Marshall as “Marcia” (Marcus) Andronicus.

The cast also includes Kamran Abbassian, Raúl Ramón Bencomo, Clayton Cook, Turner Frankosky, Bradley Gosnell, Alexandra Hensley, Nima Jafari, Richard Johnson, Cindy Kania, Finn Kerwin, Kathleen Leary, Shane McDermott, Kelvin Morales, Precious Ra’Akbar, Alexander Sheldon, Talya Sindel, Daniel A. Stevens, Sky Wahl, Alexandre Wauthier, Michelle Wicklas and Miebaka Yohannes.

Lighting design is by Zach Moore, fight choreography is by Aaron Hendry; and the production stage manager is Pete Parkin.

July 30 – October 1, 2016 (7:30 pm)
Theatricum Botanicum
1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga
(midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley)
Tickets: 310-455-3723 or www.theatricum.com


Hollywood Gets Bloody with Kids when Titus Andronicus Jr. Hits the Fringe

Titus Jr.

Table 8 Productions makes its Hollywood Fringe Festival debut June 5th with a twisted premiere of Titus Andronicus, Jr., written and directed by Troy Heard, at Sacred Fools’ Second Stage.

The premise: Benjamin, a recently divorced art teacher at upscale Dawson Middle School, is assigned the most unenviable task of directing the spring play. When he opts to mount Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedy he gets caught in a darkly comic spiral as the students supplant the teacher and he learns the toughest lesson of them all.

Titus Andronicus Jr. originated two years ago when Heard staged A Very Merry Unauthorized Scientology Pageant with a cast of young children. “After Pageant, I had people coming up to me saying I should do Shakespeare with children, which didn’t really interest me. But I thought if only there were a gimmick…and that’s where the idea of doing Titus popped up. I took inspiration from the pageant scenes in The Addams Family movies.”

But that still wasn’t enough for Heard. “The framing concept of the teacher/director suffering a nervous breakdown developed about a year later,” he says. “Who else would be insane enough to attempt to stage this show with a bunch of middle schoolers than a teacher at the end of his rope. So ‘Mr. Benjamin’ quickly became a major character and in some ways his descent into madness mirrors General Titus’s tragic decline.”

A public reading of the script took place at UNLV’s Organic and Homegrown Playwrights Festival in March and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Audiences expecting a quirky evening of children performing Shakespeare were instead given a darkly comic journey.

Sounds perfect for the Fringe…

June 5 – 18, 2016 (8pm)
Sacred Fools Theater Second Stage
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Running Time: 60 minutes
Ticket: $12 at hff16.org/3410 or at the door

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

Ophelia’s Jump Opens Midsummer Shakespeare Festival with Twelfth Night

Ophelia's Jump 2015
Ophelia’s Jump Productions will open its annual Midsummer Shakespeare Festival on July 16 with Twelfth Night, followed by Titus Andronicus the following night. Performances of both shows will continue running in rep through July 26 at Pomona College’s Sontag Greek Theatre, an outdoor amphitheater originally built in 1910 and renovated in 1997. The productions are directed respectively by co-founder Caitlin Lopez with Jenny Powell and founding artistic director, Beatrice Casagran.

Twelfth Night begins with shipwrecked twins, Viola and Sebastian. Believing her brother drowned and determined to survive alone, Viola disguises herself as a boy, Cesario, and enters the service of Orsino. Orsino sends Cesario to woo Olivia on his behalf. But Olivia becomes more interested in Cesario than Orsino and the play becomes a a merry-go-round of mistaken identities, high comedy, low tricks and desperate passion.

In Titus Andronicus, a veteran general and war hero returns to the city after a period of bloody conflicts with the Goths. Titus plans to bury several of his sons who have been killed in the conflict and spend his retirement with his remaining family including his only daughter, Lavinia. However, his unwillingness to depart from the dictates of the law and show compassion for a vanquished enemy, incites the ire of the defeated Queen of the Goths and initiates a vortex of revenge that ultimately swallows them all.

On Saturdays and Sundays, arrive early and enjoy local musicians, artists, and crafts before the show beginning at 5:30 pm. Each performance opens with a 30-minute Green Show. Bring a picnic and blanket or cushion for added comfort. Tickets and more information: www.opheliasjump.org.

Review: Coeurage Theatre Company Finds the Art in ANDRONICUS

Andronicus - Coeurage Theatre Company

L-R: Ted Barton, TJ Marchbank, Katie Pelensky, Gabriel Di Chiara, Greg Steinbrecher, Paul Romero, Brian Abraham. Photo credit: Robert Campbell

Without a doubt, there are scenes in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus that are difficult to watch. Actions that might come across as ludicrous on the page make one shrink with revulsion when viewed in the flesh, and within the confines of a small theater the effect is much like that of a horror show taken to the limit. Rape, murder, dismemberment, more murder, and about as much brutality as a person can handle in one sitting is what you’ll find at the Lyric-Hyperion Theatre. That Coeurage Theatre Company can stage it so you can still appreciate the art in Shakespeare’s early attempt at tragedy is quite an accomplishment and also a reflection of the company’s passion and all-hands-in approach. Adapted and directed by artistic director, Jeremy Lelliott, it boasts a number of fine performances and an ensemble that is at the ready every step of the way.


Coeurage Theatre Company Adapts Shakespeare’s ANDRONICUS

Coeurage logoCoeurage Theatre Company, LA’s ‘Pay What You Want’ Company, has announced the second production of its 2014 season, Andronicus, adapted and directed by Coeurage artistic director Jeremy Lelliott. There will be one preview performance on Friday, July 11 at 8pm and opening is set for Saturday, July 12 at 8pm, with the play continuing through August 17 at Coeurage’s new home, the Lyric-Hyperion Theatre & Cafe in Silver Lake.

Deliciously twisted humor gives way to unexpected poignancy in this bold take on William Shakespeare’s original horror play The Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus. Reveling in the darkest corners of human nature, Andronicus is a streamlined adaptation of Shakespeare’s most violent play; the bard’s masterful dramatic structure and brutal tale of revenge have been carefully preserved.  More

Stella Adler Lab Theatre Debuts Titus Andronicus, A Vaudeville

Titus Stella AdlerStella Adler Lab Theatre presents Titus Andronicus, A Vaudeville, debuting November 1 – 17, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 7pm. With text by William Shakespeare and re-imagined by Alex Aves, it is a play for every school child who has ever found Shakespeare a bit boring.

This Vaudeville inspired Burlesque show won’t put you to sleep, but may encourage you to run away with the circus. Come see Shakespeare’s most gruesome and bloody play, told by a rag-tag group of old-time performers.

Featuring Sam Marin, Yorgos Karamihos and Lisa Jai, along with Montana Roesch, Maia Nikiphoroff, Rukkmini Ghosh, Dominic Mora, Sebastian Cipolla, Alejandro Menchaca, Maria Bosque, Marila Colturato, Caitlin Apparcel, Neide Vieira and Daniel Damuzi. Produced by Rochelle Rossman. General Admission is $15. For reservations call (323) 960-7770 or (323) 455-3111 or visit www.plays411.com/TITUS

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