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California Shakespeare Theater Opens Its 45th Season With A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

California Shakespeare Theater opens its 2019 summer season with A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare, playing May 22 through June 16, 2019 at the Bruns Amphitheater in Orinda. The season launches with A Pay What You Can performance on Wednesday, May 22nd. Tickets will be available starting at 10am on the day of each show through TodayTix ( and the Cal Shakes Box Office ( or 510.548.9666).

The popular classic tale, directed by British-American director Tyne Rafaeli, follows four young lovers as they escape into the woods, only to find themselves enmeshed in a world turned upside-down. Caught between quarreling fairies and a troupe of bewitched actors, they lose control as the line between reality and fantasy blurs and an already fraught love tangle becomes all the more complicated. In Tyne's hands, this is sure to be a bracingly contemporary vision of Shakespeare's most beloved play, says Artistic Director Eric Ting.

Rafaeli returns to Cal Shakes following her 2017's hit show Measure for Measure, to direct a visceral and dynamic version of Shakespeare's perennial comedy. "[Midsummer] brings enormous joy which is not true of all the Shakespeare comedies, says Rafaeli.

But don't expect a light take from this critics' darling: It's genuinely funny, and deeply erotic. It's a celebration, an exploration of human sexuality and sensuality that blows apart any binary ideas. To bring joy into people's lives, as well as stem a pressing and profound conversation about the nature of power and full expression of self is why I want to do this play, says Rafaeli.

Rafaeli first met Marcel Spears (cast as Bottom, known for his role in the hit CBS TV comedy The Neighborhood) in graduate school at Columbia University where Rafaeli received her MFA in Directing and Spears received his MFA in Acting. A Midsummer Night's Dream will mark their fourth collaboration. [Spears] is a true clown, in the ancient form of the word. A wizard at embodying an innocence, depth and vulnerability with a contagious irreverence, freedom, and authenticity, says Rafaeli. He is a born theatre artist, whose generosity and connection to the audience and to his collaborators is palpable in everything he does.

Making their Cal Shakes debuts alongside Spears (also known from ABC's The Mayor; and At the Old Place at La Jolla Playhouse) are Robyn Kerr as Puck (Broadway National Tour of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, BBC TV Shows Casualty, MI5, Uncle Vanya at New York's Pearl Theater Company), Jerrie Johnson as Titania/Hippolyta (Recent MFA graduate from A.C.T., A Christmas Carol at A.C.T., As You Like It at Chautauqua Theatre Company), Kevin Kemp as Demetrius/Fairy (Dry Powder and Luna Gale at Aurora Theatre, Nora at Shotgun Players), Dean Linnard as Lysander/Flute/Fairy (hit NYC immersive theater piece Sleep No More; and Marin Shakespeare Company's Love's Labour's Lost, Three Musketeers, and Twelfth Night), and Amber Chardae Robinson as Snout/First Fairy (television credits include Hell on Wheels and upcoming summer blockbuster Stuber).

Returning to the Bruns are Cal Shakes veteran Anthony Fusco as Aegeus/Quince/Fairy (familiar to Cal Shakes audiences for appearances in Much Ado About Nothing, You Never Can Tell, Pygmalion, among many others), Jenny Nelson as Hermia/Starveling/Fairy (2018's Everybody at Cal Shakes, Sense and Sensibility, and Cinderella at Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre), Rami Margron as Oberon/Theseus (a Cal Shakes veteran, with roles in Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, Lady Windermere's Fan as well as Angels in America at Actors Theater of Louisville), and Annie Worden as Helena/Snug/Fairy (Measure for Measure at Cal Shakes, The Taming of the Shrew at Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, Two Gentlemen of Verona at Santa Cruz Shakespeare).

The creative team of A Midsummer Night's Dream includes Scenic Designer Nina Ball (whose previous designs for Cal Shakes include The War of the Roses, Everybody, As You Like It, and Othello), Costume Designer sta Bennie Hostetter (who has designed for Lincoln Center, Ars Nova, and Playwrights Horizons), Lighting Designer Jiyoun Chang (who has designed for Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Signature Theatre, Atlantic Stage, An Octoroon at Berkeley Rep, and whose previous designs for Cal Shakes include The War of the Roses), Sound Designer T. Carlis Roberts (who has designed for Steppenwolf, Arena Stage, San Jose Rep, and Lookingglass Theatre and whose previous designs for Cal Shakes include black odyssey), and Movement Choreographer Rami Margron (whose previous credits at Cal Shakes include Everybody, You Never Can Tell, and Lady Windermere's Fan).

Tyne Rafaeli (Director) is a British-American Director based in New York. She directs classics, new plays, and musicals in London and the US. Recent productions include Measure for Measure (Cal Shakes / Santa Cruz Shakespeare); Usual Girls by Ming Peiffer at Roundabout Theatre Company, and I Was Most Alive With You by Craig Lucas at Playwrights Horizons. Her work has also been seen at The Geffen Playhouse, Playwrights Realm, Classic Stage Company, The Atlantic Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, New York Stage & Film, Two River, PlayMakers Rep, Goodspeed, Juilliard, Great Lakes Shakespeare, American Players Theater, Idaho Shakespeare Festival and the O'Neill Playwrights Conference among others. Tyne is a 2016-18 Time Warner Directing Fellow at the Women's Project Theatre and received the 2014 SDC Sir John Gielgud Fellowship for Classic Direction. She trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and Columbia University.

Single tickets for A Midsummer Night's Dream range from $20 to $94 with discounts available for seniors, youth, students, military families, persons age 30 and under, and groups. Prices, dates, titles, and artists are subject to change. For information or to charge tickets by phone with VISA, MasterCard, or American Express, call the Cal Shakes Box Office at 510.548.9666. Additional information and online ticketing are available at

California Shakespeare Theater's 2019 season is supported in part by the generosity of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation, The Bernard Osher Foundation, and The Shubert Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts. Corporate partners include City National Bank, Meyer Sound, and Peet's Coffee.

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