All-female HAMLET Presented by Odyssey & LAWSC, Now thru 10/27
An all-female, multi-cultural aesthetic offers new insight when Odyssey Theatre Ensemble andLos Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company co-presentHamlet in celebration of LAWSC's 20th anniversary. Featuring a cast of 16 LAWSC favorites and talented newcomers - including producing artistic director and celebrated Shakespearean actressLisa Wolpe in the title role and award-winning film, television and theatrical star Eve Gordon as Gertrude - Hamlet opens for press tonight, Aug. 30 at the Odyssey Theatre in West L.A.
Continuing the LAWSC tradition of upending our expectations of Shakespeare's familiar texts by pricking our ears to listen anew to his masterful characters and plotting, the production evokes a politically dynamic, sexually provocative and spiritually awakened frame of reference.
"I've long admired Lisa's unique experiment of tackling Shakespeare utilizing an all-female company of actors," says OTE artistic director Ron Sossi. "It's the sort of gutsy artistic excursion we thrive on here at the Odyssey."
"This will be a richly appointed, classical production that mines the depth of Hamlet's mystery," explains Wolpe, who co-directs with longtime colleague Natsuko Ohama. "Hamlet thinks with a philosopher's mind, hoping to find a virtuous, authentic path through a dangerous world of murderous monarchs. When the ghost of Hamlet's father appears to urge him to avenge his death and kill his incestuous, usurping uncle Claudius, a terrifying supernatural world looms larger than ever as six souls die violently and depart to eternal unrest."
Co-directors Wolpe and Ohama shared the helm 18 years ago in LAWSC's 1995 production of Hamlet, in which they also alternated performing the title role. (In this current production, Ohama will play opposite Wolpe as Polonius.) The press celebrated the dynamic duo not only for their brilliant casting, but also for their remarkable world-class staging. "A production that matches anything found on the boards at the Royal Shakespeare Company... Critic's Pick," wrote BackStage West, and Drama-Logue raved, "This is a Hamlet to be studied and savored, a revelation for newcomers to the text and a fresh awakening for veterans."
In addition to Wolpe and Ohama, the cast of this new Hamlet features Eve Gordon as Gertrude; Veralyn Jones as Claudius;Chastity Dotson as Ophelia and Barnardo; Kimberleigh Aarn as Horatio; Cynthia Beckert as Laertes; Elizabeth Swain as the Ghost and Priest; Linda Bisesti as Osric and the Gravedigger; Katrinka Wolfson as Rosencrantz; Cristina Frias as Guildenstern; and Ann Colby Stocking as the Player King, Sailor and Francisco.
Set design for Hamlet is by Don Llewellyn; lighting design is by Jeremy Pivnick; sound design is by Cricket S. Myers; costume design is by A. Jeffrey Schoenberg; the assistant director is Jennifer Sage Holmes; and the production stage manager is Rachel Myles.
In concert with this production of Hamlet, LAWSC will mentor college interns, offer educational programs for high school and college drama students, and offer talkbacks and symposia before and after select performances for the community at large - all part of the company's ongoing commitment to grass-roots work on community and connection.
Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company is an award-winning all-female, multicultural theater company that produces the plays of Shakespeare. The unique and talented company was named as "one of the ten coolest things to do in Los Angeles" by Los Angeles magazine, has been featured on CNN, PBS, CBS, ABC, NBC and London's International News, has won dozens of awards and was honored by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle with the 2008 Margaret Harford Award for "Sustained Excellence in Theater."
The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble's mission remains firm: the creation of new work; the revitalization and re-exploration of classical material; consistent experimentation with the most current developments at the forefront of the "state of the art" in the international theater world; ongoing investigation of the "process" of creating theater; and continuing development of new acting, directing and writing talent via the Actor's Laboratory, Play Development Program and Emerging Directors Plan.
Lisa Wolpe is an actress, director, teacher, playwright and the founder and producing artistic director of the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company, with which she is currently celebrating her 20th season. Roles for LAWSC include Richard III, Iago, Romeo, Shylock, Angelo, Viola, Paulina, Ferdinand, Leontes, and more. She recently played Jason inMedea/Macbeth/Cinderella and Polina in The Seagull for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, presented her one-woman showShakespeare & The Alchemy of Gender at Whittier College, and frequently acts and directs around the country. Wolpe's current production of Love's Labours Lost is playing this summer at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA.
Natsuko Ohama, also celebrating 20 years with LAWSC, is one of the premier voice teachers in the country. A Drama Desk-nominated actress, Ohama is a sought-after talent for film and television (Speed, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, PBS Playhouse, West Wing, Nip Tuck, ER and the cult hit TV series Forever Knight), and has portrayed roles ranging from Hamlet to Prospero for LAWSC. She is the recipient of the Playwright's Arena Outstanding Contribution to Theater Award and heads the Voice Progression for the MFA Acting Program at USC.
Performances of Hamlet take place on Fridays and Saturdays @ 8 p.m. and Sundays @ 2 p.m.*, Aug. 30 through Oct. 27. (*On Sunday, Sept. 1 only, the performance will be @ 5 p.m. with no 2 p.m. matinee.) Additional weeknight performances are scheduled on Wednesdays @ 8 p.m. on Sept. 18, Oct. 2 and Oct. 16; and on Thursdays @ 8 p.m. on Sept. 12, Sept. 26, Oct. 10 and Oct. 24. Tickets are $30, except for the performance on Saturday, Aug. 31 which is $45 and includes a gala reception following the performance. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to www.OdysseyTheatre.com.