Independent Shakespeare Co. to Host SPRING FROLIC Gala Honoring Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4/26

Independent Shakespeare Co. (ISC), announces THE SPRING FROLIC, a benefit to celebrate and support the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival, the annual summer presentation of 10 weeks of 40 classical theater performances, education workshops, pre-show arts performances and salon-style discussions, all presented admission-free. ISC is the 2015 recipient of the prestigious Margaret Harford Award for Sustained Excellence as voted by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.

To celebrate Independent Shakespeare Co's annual presentation of free classical plays in Los Angeles City Parks, this benefit is a celebratory presentation of favorite scenes and songs from past performances from our 2004 to 2014 seasons, including a scene voted on by ISC fans. Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell will kick off the performance with opening remarks.

Councilmember Tom LaBonge will be honored by ISC for his unwavering support of the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival. Councilmember LaBonge says, "I am so proud of the Independent Shakespeare Company! As a public official, I have encountered two areas that embody arts and culture creating a dynamic magnitude in Council District Four: one being the urban lights, and two being the Old Zoo, the place where friends gather and listen to the words of the great one, William Shakespeare."

"We're returning to where the festival began!" comments Melissa Chalsma, ISC's Artistic Director. "Our first summer of free Shakespeare was in 2004 in Barnsdall Art Park. That season, we played to just under 1000 people. We were thrilled to get that many! We couldn't imagine that in just 10 years the festival would grow to involve a group of 40 theater artists and staff, a team of volunteers, partnerships across the spectrum of performing artists, educational workshops-and 45,000 audience members, all enjoying classical theater, all of it free! Our audience comes from all walks of life and represents the diversity of Los Angeles. The fact that there is no charge for admission gives access to tens of thousands of people who otherwise would not be able to experience these great plays. We're honored to be back where we started at Barnsdall for this event as we enter our second decade of presenting free theater for the city we love."

ISC Managing Director David Melville says, "We presented our first festival for $25,000, half of that going to artist salaries. Because of the support of our donors and those who believe in access to free theater, our budget has grown to a little more than 10 times that. The quality of the productions has increased tremendously and we are proud to be able to bring such high-quality professional theater to Angelenos. But before the first performance we pay actors, designers, directors and crew for months of preparation and rehearsal. We need to raise $150,000 before we start Festival rehearsals and the Spring Frolic is a huge component of that. This benefit is our most important fundraising day of the year, it is also one of the most enjoyable days for cast and audience alike as we re-live highlights of productions past."

THE SPRING FROLIC will be presented on Sunday, April 26. Pre-show party at 2:00pm and performance at 3pm at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027. Limited free parking at Barnsdall Art Park and street parking. Metro: The Vermont/Sunset Red Line station is right next to the Park, as well as multiple bus lines. Tickets are $75. For tickets, call (818) 710-6306 or buy online at

INDEPENDENT SHAKESPEARE CO. (ISC) was founded in 1998. We have been producing accessible, imaginative performances of classical plays since that time. Our first performances were located on the Lower East Side of New York City. The stripped down production style of our early productions enabled us to travel easily and we quickly found ourselves touring Europe, ending with an invitation to perform our production of Macbeth for four weeks at The King's Head Theatre in London. In 2001 we relocated to Los Angeles and -- with the support of the Department of Recreation and Parks, and the Department of Cultural Affairs -- founded Free Shakespeare in Barnsdall Park in 2004. Because of audience demand, in 2010 we moved to the significantly larger venue at the Old Zoo and re-christened the summer season the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival. 2014 was our 10th anniversary of performing free Shakespeare in Los Angeles City Parks. The growth in attendance is extraordinary: our first season played to fewer than 1,000 people; by 2014 over 45,500 people came to Griffith Park for 40 nights of free classical theater productions. In 2012, we expanded our offerings with our indoor performance space, Independent Studio, where we present new works, re-imagined stagings of classics, readings and classes. ISC is the recipient of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle's highest honor, the Margaret Harford Award for Sustained Excellence.

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