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Free Shakespeare For L.A. Is Back With TWELFTH NIGHT At The Griffith Park

Free Shakespeare For L.A. Is Back With TWELFTH NIGHT At The Griffith Park

This summer Independent Shakespeare Co. (ISC) presents the romantic comedy Twelfth Night at the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival, directed by ISC Co-Founder and Managing Director, David Melville. Twelfth Night will begin previews on Saturday, June 29 at 7pm, will open on Saturday, July 6 at 7pm and perform through Sunday, September 1 at the Old Zoo in Griffith Park. All ISC summer Shakespeare productions are FREE to the public! Twelfth Night is the first of two productions being presented at this year's Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival. Pericles begins Saturday, July 27 and will run in repertory with Twelfth Night.

Considered one of Shakespeare's great works, Twelfth Night is one of his finest comedies. A cloud hangs over the country of Illyria as Countess Olivia mourns and Duke Orsino pines. But when Viola (a young woman with a big secret) washes onshore, it soon becomes clear that you can't keep the human spirit down for long. Music, dance, and lovable misfits abound in one of the most beloved romantic comedies of all time, all set against the backdrop of the jazz era.

Director David Melville comments, "Our production has a feeling of romance about it, channeling the Golden Age of American Song, the era of Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael and Irving Berlin. The theme of music runs through Twelfth Night (after all, the first line is, "If music be the food of love, play on...") and we're taking it as a jumping off point. Our production is not set in a specific place but is influenced by 1930's Hollywood (like the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films). We capture that feeling of romance and freedom which stand in opposition to the oppressive forces of puritanism that Shakespeare is lampooning in the play through Malvolio (who is off to stop everyone's fun and freedom of expression)."

Artistic Director Melissa Chalsma says, "We're inviting the audience to this year's Festival, to be enveloped in an atmosphere of romance and nature, to experience the honest pleasure of a picnic and theater under the stars. We live in a time of over-stimulation and anxiety, but we believe theater has to be there to soothe that. Theater is an antidote. If we can achieve one thing, it is that we can give everyone a break from the world for a little bit."

David Melville (Director) As one of the co-founders of Independent Shakespeare Co., David has performed in many ISC shows including the title roles in Hamlet, Macbeth, Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Richard II and Richard III; Prince Hal in Henry IV; Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Touchstone in As You Like It and Sir Toby in Twelfth Night. Other theatre credits include Mother Courage at The Mermaid Theatre, London (with Glenda Jackson); Hamlet, Almeida at the Hackney Empire, London and Broadway transfer (with Ralph Fiennes); Ivanov at The Almeida Theatre, London and Maly Theatre, Moscow. Also a director, he created the Rockabilly production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona among other ISC productions. David has appeared in several films including Ironclad (starring Paul Giamatti as King John), The Understudy and Perfection. On television, he has appeared as the hopeless British travel correspondent Lawrence Beldon-Smythe in the Travel Channel series Lawrence of America. David has composed songs for numerous film projects and theater productions (including the ISC original musical, Red Barn, now being developed as a film.)

The cast of Twelfth Night will feature Patrick Batiste, Melissa Chalsma, Brent Charles, William Elsman, Hao Feng, Lorenzo Gonzalez, Carene Rose Mekertichyan, David Melville, Kelvin Morales, Xavi Moreno, Bukola Ogunmola, Darian Ramirez, Gyasi Silas and Sabra Williams.

Unit Set Design & Scenic Design is by Natalie Morales. Season Lighting Design is by Bosco Flanagan. Costume Design is by Lia Wallfish. Music Direction is by David Beukers.

Twelfth Night will begin previews on Saturday, June 29 at 7pm and will open on Saturday, July 6 at 7pm. Twelfth Night and Pericles will play in repertory through September 1. All performances and events are free! The festival is located in The Old Los Angeles Zoo at Griffith Park (near 4730 Crystal Spring Dr., adjacent to the Merry Go Round). GPS Coordinates of the parking area: 34*8.034'N, 118* 17.100'W. Visit or call (818) 710-6306 for further directions and information.

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