Shakespeare by the Sea Announces 2023 Season

This year, SBTS will present two of Shakespeare’s greatest works- Twelfth Night directed by Patrick Vest and Hamlet directed by Stephanie Coltrin. 

By: May. 05, 2023
Shakespeare by the Sea Announces 2023 Season

Shakespeare by the Sea, Southern California's premiere outdoor Shakespeare festival that's admission-free and never too far, announced plays and locations for its 26th season.

The festival will open at Point Fermin Park in San Pedro on June 22nd with Twelfth Night. Hamlet will open on June 29th. San Pedro performances continue until July 8. Touring performances to 12 parks in LA and Orange Counties will run July 9-August 3, before the festival returns to San Pedro for the Grand Finale on August 4 and 5.

This year, SBTS will present two of Shakespeare's greatest works- Twelfth Night directed by Patrick Vest and Hamlet directed by Stephanie Coltrin.

"Twelfth Night and Hamlet are shows that we have produced before, of course," says Co-Artistic Director Stephanie Coltrin, but we have never done them in the same season. They are such a good fit- in some ways these plays are mirrors of each other thematically but approach those themes in different ways. Bringing classical works to these parks ignites imagination, promotes literacy and encourages shared artistic expression. A night of Shakespeare under the stars creates a lifetime of memories for audiences and artists alike. SBTS becomes part of people's individual stories through a shared experience."


Shakespeare by the Sea was founded in 1998 and is celebrating its 26th Admission Free Season under new leadership. Founder Lisa Coffi retired at the end of 2022, and long-time co-producers Suzanne Dean and Stephanie Coltrin have taken the helm as Co-Artistic Directors. Both are veterans in Southern California theatre.

This will be Suzanne Dean's 24th year with the company. In 2000, as an actress and film producer raising her young family on the Peninsula, she was looking to get back to her theatrical roots somewhere close to home. SBTS ticked all her boxes - outdoor Shakespeare, community, talented artists to play with, and a potential to expand to more programming. She dove in with SBTS, helping to elevate the artistic quality and fundraising goals, and soon after co-founded Little Fish Theatre in 2002. "Great stories, relatable characters, and expanding awareness beyond our own backyards is something that inspires us to Shakespeare. I have seen how magical it is to bring these plays directly into neighborhoods, making it free for anyone and everyone to experience. Give us a plot of ground and space for audience and we'll transform it into a Danish castle, a bridge in Venice, the forest of Arden, a ship, the Roman Forum, a church, battlefields, an Egyptian palace, or a magical island, awaiting an audience that will come and leave transformed by a captivating story."

Stephanie Coltrin came to the company in 2010 when she and Suzanne were doing a project together at another company and Suzanne asked her about working for SBTS. Having worked in companies all over Southern California as stage manager, director and producer, she was instantly hooked and has been thrilled to return year after year. "We know that seeing these shows is a benefit because we see it live and in person every year. We see the families who attend together with a multi-generational tradition of attendance; the groups of friends who bring picnics and watch it all happen, we talk to the patrons after each show and hear their stories of why they come and how their day is better for having come. We get letters and emails. It's a profoundly moving experience to get to be part of people's lives in such an impactful way."

"The way we put up these shows is the way that Shakespeare did it. Our truck rolls into town, our actors, volunteers and staff work together to set up every element (set, lights, costumes, props, sound, merchandise, concessions), then the actors perform and then we take it all down to be ready to drive to a new city the next day. And often our audience comes early to watch the whole thing happen," continues Suzanne.

"We say that these tales are timeless because they are. Shakespeare understood humanity in a way that is still being studied. Just think of it- this person wrote plays over 400 years ago that still make us laugh, cry, think, question. He gave us stories that last forever. And in the end, that's part of the magic of Shakespeare. I believe that we are all storytellers in our own way, and Shakespeare reminds us how important those stories are. Combine those works with incredible artists and an audience who comes to breathe it in, and I can't think of a better way to spend a summer," concludes Stephanie.


SBTS is grateful to 2023 sponsors like: Fast Lane Transportation, L.A. County Department of Arts & Culture, City of L.A. Department of Cultural Affairs, City of L.A. Department of Parks & Recreation, Willmore City Heritage Association, LA County 4th District Supervisor Janice Hahn, LA City 4th District Councilmember Nithya Raman, SA Recycling, Hermosa Beach Rotary, Malaga Bank, Grand Vision Foundation, and Theatre League Kansas City.

A fee is requested from each city on the tour, but not all cities are able to pay the cost of having SBTS perform. SBTS turns to local businesses and individuals to make up the difference and also asks the attending public who can afford to do so to spend money at the performances- purchasing raffle tickets, concessions, or merchandise, or simply donating. As government support becomes more difficult to secure, SBTS is depending more on this matrix of funding in order to sustain its programs and expand its reach.


From a bandshell stage at the Port of Los Angeles, beachy enclaves along the coast, foothill communities in the San Gabriel Mountains, and multiple regions of Orange County, these two productions will cover a breadth of neighborhoods from June 22 - August 5, 2023 - bringing Shakespeare's stories to residents and visitors who enjoy storytelling under the stars.

Touring locations beyond San Pedro will include: Rancho Palos Verdes, Hermosa Beach, Long Beach, Mission Viejo, Manhattan Beach, Rossmoor, South Pasadena, Encino, Beverly Hills, Santa Ana, Torrance, Cerritos and Aliso Viejo.

Visit the SBTS locations page for park details and performance info.

Since 1998, SBTS's programs have reached over 560,000 youth and their families, seniors and individuals in Southern California with quality arts and educational programs. Funded entirely by donations and grants, Shakespeare by the Sea brings contemporary and classic works to underserved, culturally diverse audiences in order to ignite imagination, promote literacy, and encourage artistic expression.