BWW Feature: Reinventing Summer Shakespeare, Los Angeles Style
The show may be cancelled but the art still goes on online!
It's summer in L.A. and the theaters are closed. What's a Shakespeare lover to do? Well, artists continue to create in whatever way they can as they brainstorm plans for 2020 and beyond. We've heard from some of your favorite companies and here's the latest on cancellations and some of the inventive solutions meant to help you get your Bard on this season. Go see a show....online!
Independent Shakespeare Co. has cancelled its 2020 Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival for the very first time but they have new virtual plans to help you get your Shakespeare fix during the gap. Artistic Director Melissa Chalsma says, "In August, ISC will produce an all-new THE COMEDY OF ERRORS that will live stream from our Studio space, free for anyone to access. If it is safe, we will welcome a limited audience to join us in person. Along with this production, we will be hosting our regular Players in the Park workshops, lectures, and community events in the digital world." Their goal is to "make it as exuberant and connected an experience as audiences are used to. We hope we will be able to return to more regular programming in the fall, and we fully intend to bring our planned season of KING LEAR and AS YOU LIKE IT to the summer of 2021." Rumor has it we may also see some Shakespeare in the Parking Lot as a drive-in experience. Now that would be a first. I also recommend you check out ISC's ART BREAKS, a series of podcasts and videos available on their website, www.iscla.org. One of the offerings is an evocative Shakespeare Journal of first-person video entries by company members that give insight into both artist and character. It's a cool concept and a great way to stay engaged with your favorite artists.
The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles is continuing its free live streaming Zoom webinar series BARD TALKS. The one-hour sessions cover a wide range of topics and each one includes a Q&A session. Up next on May 23, Dr. Tiffany Stern "reveals the quirky and extraordinary way in which actors walked and talked to play tragedy in Shakespeare's day. The subject is funnier than the title might suggest!" You can register and check out the full calendar HERE. New webinars stream live on Saturdays at 10:00am/PST and are available later in their Webinar Archive.
Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum's letter to the community says: "We cannot see a pathway by which it will be safe for our artists to be in rehearsals in late May. And without starting in late May, we are not able to open the Repertory in early July. We will wait for more guidance from County and State health departments before we can make a determination on any 2020 Repertory performance." While performances are currently on hold, many of their summer classes will go ahead as planned. Some you can access online, like Milan Dragicevich's Verbal Power on the Shakespearean Stage (May 30-31), Celina Lee Surniak's Snippets: Combat - Quarterstaff Flow (begin when you want), and Karen Hardcastle's Teen Playwriting Workshop (Saturdays June 6-28). There's something for everyone and every level, so take a look now and spend the summer enhancing your skills to be ready when opportunity comes your way. Read more at theatricum.com and click on Take Classes.
The Porters of Hellsgate Artistic Director Charles Pasternak writes that the company was planning its annual fundraising campaign when the pandemic hit. It has been postponed for now but the gala may emerge in an online format if there is no other option. As for their season, he says, "We were originally going to open with AS YOU LIKE IT. For later in the year, it has long been our ambition to present both parts of HENRY IV in repertory. In my personal quarantine I am very much enjoying researching and preparing those. A project of that size may make up the entirety of a shortened season... we also have directors currently preparing and thinking about HENRY VIII, ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, and ANTONY & CLEOPATRA. Whether it is a few weeks or a few months, we'll be back on the boards as soon as it is possible." Keep up with The Porters at www.portersofhellsgate.com.
Shakespeare by the Sea has cancelled its 2020 Season, posting this message from Producing Artistic Director Lisa Coffi. "It is heartbreaking for all of us at SBTS to cancel the 2020 season. We will certainly miss seeing all of our wonderful audience members, actors, production team and friends this summer. We'll definitely be making plans for 2021 - so stay tuned." www.shakespearebythesea.org
Hero Theatre brings back its recent crowd-pleasing production of TWELFTH NIGHT in a two-day virtual workshop featuring a live reading of Alison Carey's modern-verse translation. The free event will take place on June 5 & 6, and you can join them for one day, two days, part of a day, or just the reading. A complete schedule is available on their website. The workshop is presented by Hero Theatre as part of Play on Shakespeare's First Reads.
Kingsmen Shakespeare Company has also cancelled its 2020 summer festival productions of MACBETH and THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA "due to the uncertainty of the future of public gatherings this summer," says Artistic Director Michael J. Arndt. "The Kingsmen Shakespeare artistic staff and extended creative family is in the process of developing alternative programs and performances. The educational team is preparing virtual theatre camps for children who are now being home schooled. Our website, social media outlets, and a newsletter will continue to produce content and provide it to you." Find out more at www.kingsmenshakespeare.org.
A Noise Within is taking its Summer With Shakespeare camp online, June 15 - July 17. Classes will cover topics such as Swords/Stage Combat, Magic, Mask Work, Voice Work, Stagecraft and Design, and Movement, and are structured to work for a variety of scheduling needs. "We're offering several options for each of our tracks," says Director of Education and Community Outreach Alicia Green. "It's very flexible so that anyone can do it, and we make it work for every student. With everything being so unknown, we want to make sure to do what we can to provide top-tier theatre education while understanding that a full five weeks is not viable for everyone. Our program is structured so that families can choose what works best for their family, whether that be one week, or three, or attending our entire five-week camp. We want to give children, both local and across the country, the chance to be creative and collaborate with their peers while still being safe. We know that families and students want an opportunity that's both fun and educational. Students will dance and have performances of shows, they will raise their voices and create characters all while dabbling in tech, magic, and improv. It's an incredible experience to enhance their summer break." For more information go to www.anoisewithin.org.
New Swan Shakespeare Festival will also go on hiatus this summer. Artistic Director Eli Simon announces, "It is with a heavy heart that we are forced to cancel this summer's New Swan season. Given the Coronavirus threat, the campus barring gatherings, and the mandate of social distancing, there was no possible way to proceed. The company's health, and the health of our patrons is always our number one concern. Social distancing seems to be the best way to ensure that this virus doesn't spread. Theater is a social gathering, and since we cannot implement proper distancing, it puts us all at high risk. We will be in touch with news about our 2021 Season soon. In the meantime, thank you for your generous and ongoing support of New Swan. We will get through this and bounce back stronger than ever in 2021. Stay in touch with the company at newswanshakespeare.com.