The Great Los Angeles Air Raid of 1942 sets the stage for SCLA’s Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night - SCLA

Fred Sanders (Feste), Stephen Caffrey (Sir Toby Belch), and Chris Rivera (Sir Andrew Aguecheek). Photo credit: Michael Lamont

For the last 30 years The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles has been captivating audiences with its award-winning performances. Now, SCLA’s professional company returns with a new production of Twelfth Night, beginning July 29, hosted at Santa Monica College.

Twelfth Night is directed by former Royal Shakespeare Company member, Kenn Sabberton, and takes its inspiration from the real life events of the “Great Los Angeles Air Raid of 1942” and alien-invasion hysteria. It also features original music by composer and cast member Fred Sanders who plays Feste.

In 1942, bright lights in the skies of L.A. could only mean one of two things: a Pearl Harbor-style attack by Japan or an alien invasion. The Great Los Angeles Air Raid, as it has become known, provides the perfect SoCal backdrop for this gender-bending comedy, which tracks the misadventures of shipwrecked twins Viola and Sebastian. A delightful play full of unrequited love, mistaken identity, love triangles, and lies, it contains some of Shakespeare’s wittiest wordplay.

The cast stars Therese Barbato (Viola), Chris Butler (Orsino), Tracey A. Leigh (Olivia), Kimberly Scott (Maria), Stephen Caffrey (Sir Toby Belch), Time Winters (Malvolio), Connor Kelly-Eiding (Sebastian), Fred Sanders (Feste), Christopher Rivera (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Sheldon Donenberg (Antionio), and Dustin Staff (Valentine).

Production team also includes Ben Donenberg (SCLA Artistic Director), and SMC designers Lacey Anzelc (scenic design), Leigh Allen (lighting design), Kristie Mattsson (costume design), and Kirk Graves (prop master).

Director Kenn Sabberton has been an actor, director and teacher for over thirty years. Prior to training he was the youngest ever Artistic Director of the Enfield Youth Theatre and was invited to work with the renowned National Youth Theatre. He trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and received a B.A. in Theatre Studies. After many years working in London, Kenn was invited to join the Royal Shakespeare Company. He later worked with London’s Royal National Theatre, the Aquila Theatre Company, and as an associate artist teacher with NYU Center for Ancient Studies, studying, lecturing and researching Shakespeare. Twelfth Night is Kenn’s fourth production with SCLA. Previous shows include As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo and Juliet).

July 29 – August 21, 2016
The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles and Santa Monica College
Santa Monica College Main Stage on the Quad
1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405
Wed – Sat at 8pm, Sun at 2pm
Tickets: 213-481-2273 or
$40 for General Admission, $70 for VIP Seats plus a box, picnic meal provided by Thyme Cafe. Student tickets are $20 and FREE for Veterans.


Sierra Madre Shakespeare Festival Presents 2nd Season of Summer Classics

Sierra Shakes

Sierra Shakes in action

Sierra Madre Shakespeare Festival returns to Sierra Madre Memorial Park for its second season of Shakespeare under the stars. The season will feature two classics – one comedy and one tragedy – now through August 13. Romeo and Juliet is currently running through July 16 and Twelfth Night will open July 21 and continue through August 13. All performances are free so bring the family, a blanket, and a picnic and you’ll be set for a lovely summer night.

“We are thrilled to be returning to Sierra Madre with two different plays and nearly 20 performances,” says artistic director Devon Armstrong. “The audiences were tremendous last year, and we can only hope that they enjoyed the shows as much as the cast did. We are proud to offer these performances in a co-sponsorship with the City of Sierra Madre and with the support of the Sierra Madre Community Foundation.”

Following the performances in Sierra Madre, the company will move to its downtown location at the historic Pico House for an additional five performances of Twelfth Night.

Sierra Shakes

June 23 – July 16, 2016
7:30 pm
Sierra Madre Memorial Park
July 21 – August 13, 2016
7:30 pm
Sierra Madre Memorial Park
222 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, CA, 91024.
Performances are Free and there is Free Street Parking

August 19, 20, 21, 24 & 26, 2016
7:30 pm
Pico House
424 N. Main Street
Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90012

Kate Jopson to Adapt and Direct Twelfth Night for Coeurage Theatre Company

Twelfth Night - coeurage
Coeurage Theatre Company has announced that Kate Jopson will adapt and direct its upcoming production of Twelfth Night, which begins performances July 15 at GTC Burbank. Interpreted through a lens of social consciousness and supported by Shakespeare’s timeless text, this production will take a critical look at cultural isolation and the beautiful, dark, and deeply human longing to belong.

Escaping the turbulence of their homeland, Viola (Amielynn Abellera) and Sebastian (Robert Paterno) risk a perilous journey to Illyria hoping to find security and a new life. When their boat sinks and the twins fear each other dead, the adventure truly begins. Welcome to an Illyria peopled by street musicians, eccentric young affluence, immigrants, and the media-obsessed in Twelfth Night.

The ensemble also includes Nardeep Khurmi (Orsino), Dieterich Gray (Toby), Leilani Smith (Maria), Graham Kurtz (Andrew), Lillian Solange (Olivia), Hannah Tamminen (Olivia), Rodrigo Brand (Malvolio), Kamar Elliott (Antonio), Jaime Barcelon (Captain/Officer 1), Miranda LeRae (Maria’s Assistant/Officer 2), and Randolph Thompson.

Scenic design is by JR Bruce, lighting design is by Bo Tindell, and costume design is by Benita Elliott. Original music is composed by Oscar Moncada, and the stage manager is Katheryn Bryant.

Director Kate Jopson is Artistic Director of The Flagship Ensemble, Associate Artistic Director of Circle X Theatre Company, and co-founder of the devising group Hephaestus Co. She has directed site-specific, immersive, and traditional theatre in San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles. Jopson has assisted at the Seoul Arts Center, La Jolla Playhouse, Theatre @ Boston Court, A.C.T, CalShakes, and The Magic Theatre. She was Experience Director for Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre and Associate Artistic Director for Woman’s Will, and has been a guest lecturer at UC San Diego and CU Boulder.

July 15 – August 13, 2016 (opening night 7/16)
Coeurage Theatre Company at GTC Burbank
1100 W. Clark Avenue
Burbank, CA 91506
Street parking is available
Reservations: (323) 944-2165 or
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8pm. All seats are Pay What You Want.

Get Your Shakespeare On with Twelfth Night at the Fringe

Twelfth Night
A group of students from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television are currently encoring their production of Twelfth Night at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, following a brief but very successful run on campus. In this Shakespeare classic tale of mistaken identities, audience participation is not only encouraged, it is often unwillingly imposed, so beware! Director Will Block fills us in.

Will, why did you decide to produce Twelfth Night at the Fringe?

The play is incredibly relevant in today’s cell phone obsessed society. All of the characters are so caught up in preserving their own sense of self that they neglect forming personal relationships with anyone around them. Viola and Sebastian serve as a disrupting influence that causes the characters to begin to genuinely reach out to each other, with variously happy and disastrous results. I think this reflects where we are today. My generation, thanks to social media, is so caught up with perception, and less so with communication.

Is there anything particularly unusual about the show?

There is no fourth wall in our production. The actors very much play this play with the audience, not for them or to them or at them. We think this is how these words need to be spoken – acknowledging the audience allows everything to become more active – and it’s a practice that’s becoming rarer and rarer.

Why would fringe-goers love to see it?

This production is full-blooded and bare bones. There are no scenic elements and few costumes. This places a greater emphasis on Shakespeare’s words, and the line of the narrative itself. We think Fringe-goers will appreciate this, as well as our extensive audience participation (get ready to dance).

For tickets and more information go to

Shine Darkly, Illyria takes over where Twelfth Night ends


Ovation Award winning writer Meghan Brown and Ovation Award winning director Amanda McRaven re-team for a new work, Shine Darkly, Illyria presented by Fugitive Kind Theater. Using Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night as a jumping-off point, Shine Darkly, Illyria continues Shakespeare’s story by following what happens to the characters next.

On the island paradise of Illyria, inhabitants do reverence to the Moon and revel at nightly moonparties. Love, sex and dancing abound, but no children are ever conceived. Gender boundaries in sex can be rather fluid (Some of Shakespeare’s original characters engaged in cross-dressing, after all).

The Moon has a favorite in the countess Olivia, and Olivia consumes moon dust as a euphoric substance. When The Moon attempts to warn Olivia of an upcoming ecological disaster brought on by humanity’s environmental neglect, Olivia does not listen. Nature hands the Illyrians an ultimatum: evolve or die.

Featured in the cast are Julia Aks, Robyn Buck, Jennice Butler, Alana Marie Cheuvront, Jessica DiBattista, Emily L. Gibson, Sage Howard Simpson, Mercedes Manning, Jeff Marras, Tyler Menjivar, Jim Senti, Jason Vande Brake and Benny Wills. Costume design: Allison Dillard. Lighting design: Karyn Lawrence. Set design: Jeanine Ringer. Sound design: Ray Salas. Stage manager: Rebecca Lynne.

May 6 – 29, 2016
Fugitive Kind Theater
McCadden Place Theatre
1157 N. McCadden Place
Hollywood, CA 90038
Fri. at 8pm, Sat. at 4pm and 8pm, Sun. at 7pm
Tickets are $25. Saturday matinee performances are Pay What You Can.
Tickets: (702) 204-6179 or
For more about the company, visit

Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival Goes Indie-Rock for 12th Night

12th Night Santa Clarita Shakespeare

If music be the food of love, Rock on! That’s the motto of Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival’s production of 12th Night – A Rock Musical, opening this weekend. This all new interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies takes Shakespeare’s text and sets it to original music in an indie rock concept by composer Jay Africa. Arrangements and musical direction are by Justin Horwitz and Erin McBride Africa directs.

“Putting Shakespeare’s words to music first seemed like a formidable challenge,” says Jay Africa, “But as I dove into his words, I discovered that much of the play already lent itself to being set to music. Lines restructured themselves into verses, rhymes revealed themselves in unexpected places, and rhythms marched out of the dialogue as if on their own.”

The play is set in Olivia’s Orchard, a fictitious bar, while a live 4-piece rock band (Duke Orsino and Thunderlove) plays on stage. The actors join in open mic night fashion, while pursuing their loves.

“Ultimately, it is about connecting with an audience,” says David Stears, the company’s Executive Director. “And this is a great way to bring a modern sensibility to the text and story. Shakespeare’s lyric text is a perfect for modern singer/songwriter/indie music style. Most of these songs can be on the radio tomorrow.”

12th Night – A Rock Musical
July 18 – August 16, 2015 (7:30 pm)
Rivendale Park in Towsley Canyon

Shakespeare in the Park is part of the LA SummerFEST, an eclectic summer cultural festival in Santa Clarita. All performances are free (donations suggested). Bring a chair or a blanket, the family, and a picnic and enjoy a beautiful evening under the stars. For more information about the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival, visit

Rebecca Taichman’s Ever-Evolving Relationship with Twelfth Night

An interview by guest writer Evan Henerson

When the subject is Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy Twelfth Night, the metaphors and analogies come easily to director Rebecca Taichman, who uses words like “epic,” “complex,” “Mozartian” and “perfect.”

“It’s truly bottomless,” she says. “I thought I knew everything about the play, and I just keep unpeeling layers.”

Rebecca Taichman directs The Old Globe's 2015 Summer Shakespeare Festival production of Twelfth Night, June 21 - July 26, 2015. Photo by Jim Cox.

She speaks from the experience of having already de-onioned quite a bit of the shenanigans of Viola, Orsino, Olivia and company. The production that opens this weekend to kick off the Old Globe’s 2015 Summer Shakespeare Festival is Taichman’s second go-round following a 2009 production at Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC which subsequently moved to the McCarter Theatre. Going back even further, Taichman played Viola as an undergraduate in a production at McGill University while still, in her words, “a pup.” Taichman, who had acting aspirations before turning to directing, does not give her rendition of Viola glowing reviews. “My memory of the experience is that I didn’t understand the play at all,” she says.

The 2009 production, on the other hand, took home glowing notices for both its performances and for its visual palate. The Old Globe opportunity came about after she was approached by the company’s Artistic Director Barry Edelstein who had seen the Shakespeare Theatre/McCarter production and inquired if Taichman was up for reimagining it for an outdoor staging at the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre.

Taichman was eager to reexamine and reconnect. “I think there’s a similar heart and it’s told from a similar point of view (as the previous production),” she says, “but it’s also extremely different. The first step was a conversation with the design team on how we could make what we did better and really maximize the outdoor space.”  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:

Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival Announces New Summer Events

12thNight SCSF 2Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival is introducing a number of new events this summer in addition to its popular full-length production, which is a Shakespeare classic reinvented indie rock style, 12th Night – A Rock Musical.

“It is a wonderful reimagining of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies,” says David Stears, the company’s executive director. “The Shakespearean text lends itself to rock music so easily. And it is great fun!” The production is a partnership with the Festival of New American Musicals and runs July 18 – August 16, 2015.

As part of the festival’s community engagement program, Crezca Teatro Comunitario debuts a new play developed by playwright Victor Vazquez, directors Sayda Trujillo and Juan Parada, associate producer Carla Corona and local residents. For more about the program go to

The festival will also produce Once More Unto the Breach, an original compilation of Shakespeare’s text and writings on War, Honor, and Bravery compiled and edited by David Stears and Luck Hari. The title comes from a line of text in Henry V, a call to arms to a weary fighting force to once again enter the field of battle.

Another new event is a mini-REN-FEST with family entertainment, food, vendors, and sword fights, all celebrating the opening of the Shakespeare in the Park production. Everyone is encouraged to come in their best renaissance costumes.

For more information and a complete look at all of the events taking place this summer, go to

Rutina Wesley to Star in The Old Globe’s TWELFTH NIGHT

Rutina WesletyThe Old Globe has announced the cast and creative team for its upcoming production of Twelfth Night, which stars Rutina Wesley as Viola, directed by Rebecca Taichman. Previews begin on June 21 and the show runs through July 26, 2015, with opening night on Saturday, June 27 at 8:00 pm.

Everything we love about Shakespeare–romance, music, poetry, laughter, swordplay, great characters, and even a girl in pants–is in Twelfth Night. Shipwrecked and alone in foreign Illyria, young Viola masquerades as a boy and becomes the go-between for the lovesick Duke Orsino and the beautiful Countess Olivia. Soon Viola finds herself in the middle of a topsy-turvy love triangle with lunacy on every side.

True Blood’s Rutina Wesley stars as Viola, with Sara Topham as Olivia and LeRoy McClain as Sebastian, Amy Aquino as Maria, Terence Archie as Orsino, Manoel Felciano as Feste, Robert Joy as Malvolio, Patrick Kerr as Andrew Aguecheek, and Tom McGowan as Sir Toby Belch. Joining them are Old Globe/USD Graduate Theatre Program actors Amy Blackman, Lindsay Brill, Charlotte Bydwell, Lowell Byers, Ally Carey, Jamal Douglas, Tyler Kent, Makha Mthembu, Daniel Petzold, Megan M. Storti, Nathan Whitmer, and Patrick Zeller.  More

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