Category Archives: Shakespeare

Independent Shakespeare Rocks Romeo and Juliet at Griffith Park

Erika Soto and Nikhil Pai in ISC's Romeo and Juliet

Erika Soto and Nikhil Pai in ISC’s Romeo and Juliet

@IndyShakes returns to Griffith Park this Summer with Shakespeare’s most famous play about teenage folly as it’s season opener.

The emotional knee-jerk characteristics of tween/teens are thoroughly captured in this production by a not yet 13, overly cutesy Juliet and a capricious Romeo falling in and out of infatuation with Rosalind and then soundly in love with the girl of his dreams.

It’s a solidly modern theme that never loses its resonance or it’s impact especially with younger people today driving culture into a very adult landscape, drowning out the motif of children being babies, in its wake.  That’s not exactly the case here, but the power of extreme youthful passion craving experience in its fullest value is never more displayed so well as in Romeo and Juliet.

Once past the somewhat manufactured physicality of actress Erika Soto’s (Juliet) naivety, who displays a more adult change-up in the second act, there really is a quite brilliantly executed performance.  Ms.  Soto captures on one hand an exuberant, refreshingly high-spirited pre-teen and on the other, a singularly desperate, very young girl trapped in a situation with no options, no empathy from her parents, and no social recourse whatsoever.  Suicide is a clear choice.  For Juliet, it is the one way she knows how to absolutely decide her own fate.

Independent Shakespeare has taken pains to master a raucous Romeo and Juliet focusing much more into the quicksilver aspect of the teenage love story and the bawdiness of Shakespeare’s original writing.  Everything about the presentation is pointedly interactive, jolly, “loose,” laying so much less heavily on Shakespeare’s age-old theme of parental control, but nevertheless making the heady and lightening speed ending absolutely potent.

In fact, it is noticeable that some of the darkest aspects of this play – the death of Mercutio, the fatal duel with Tybalt, the severity of the consequences of Romeo and Juliet’s secret marriage – are almost skipped in favor of  what seems like a “never-ending party.” Here we have a thoroughly libertine Mercutio powerfully executed by Andre Martin and a surprisingly un-frumpy, street-wise, quick-thinking nurse played by Bernadette Sullivan almost entirely coopting focus.  Actor Nikhil Pai is a perfectly appealing Romeo who matches Juliet.  And there is truly an immersive quality about this production.

In the end though, the message for Juliet remains the same: that Love is most definitely NOT unconditional.  She has “lain with her sworn enemy”.  There will be no forgiveness for the truth and no way out of a life she can no longer accept through the “forced” new open eyes of an adult.  In Romeo’s case, death is as definitive a choice, and that of a young boy so immersed in the conviction of love without reason.  He really believes his life is over when he hears of Juliet’s untimely demise.  Romeo and Juliet’s only real support system is Friar Lawrence who (even though only) by accident, fails the couple, when it counts.

The violence of Romeo and Juliet’s actions is not shocking at all.  Their course has been set for them, mostly by the haste and bullying with which Juliet’s parents arrange her “womanhood”.  They are well-meaning but typically narcissistic adults more concerned about appearance and legacy than their child’s “actual” happiness.  Sound modern?  It should.  It’s a behavior still happening in every culture ore’ the world difficult to render it excusable for the “times,” be it cross-racial divides, religious and cultural differences that don’t assimilate, buying and selling child brides…and grooms, keeping kids on lock down for more than safety reasons, the gamut is endless – just watch the news.  And that is what makes this story ultimately so tragic.  We may have moved the needle in the direction of facilitating awesome human beings rather than ordering our children into a kind of submissive adulthood.  But plenty over centuries hasn’t really changed.

Independent Shakespeare’s production of Romeo and Juliet under the direction of Melissa Chalsma is an overwhelming success with it’s completely fresh interactive presentation.  Here we have absolute beauty, intelligent comedy and painful tragedy unequivocally balanced.  

One of the most gorgeous and seriously fun aspects of this production is the original fairytale-punk, rock score designed and performed by David Melville & Ashley Nguyen with William Elsman & Jack Lancaster.  Undeniably the highlight of the evening.

Highly recommended.  It’s a bit bawdy at times for young children, but no one was complaining.

The Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival
Friday through Sunday until July 26th
at The Old Zoo in Griffith Park

7:00pm

For more information, call (818) 508-1754

or visit www.iscla.org

Photo credit: Grettel Cortes

The World Domination of Richard III at Eclectic Company

 The villains get the best lines

Richard III

One of the most coveted roles in Shakespearean literature, Shakespeare’s history play recounts how Richard ascended to the throne and consolidated his power largely by accomplishing the murder of his perceived political adversaries, including members of his own family, in a story that resonates as surprisingly modern.  Fast, vicious and murderous, Richard III revels in Shakespeare’s gleeful poetry, hurtling along with Richard on his psychotic vision of world domination.

Directed by Natasha Troop, Eclectic Company’s Richard III is this season’s play to watch. Described as an “intimate encounter with Shakespeare’s most popular and cunning anti-hero, Richard of Gloucester,” the design elements of the current production are a mash-up of the futuristic and 1930s-era retro, highlighting both the elegance of life at court and the coldness of the Plantagenet feud.

It is both silky and seductive, ferocious and brutal, charming and repelling.

The cast includes Jon Mullich as Richard, also featuring Ovation award nominee Jesse Merlin (Re-Animator: The Musical) as Buckingham, and Christian Chan, Alon Dina, Melody Doyle, Carissa Gipprich, Rachel Kanouse, Jessicah Neufeld, David Pinion, Tim Polzin, Glenn Simon, Janie Steele, Randi Tahara, Gary Tremble, Eliot Troop, Micah Watterson and Nathan Werner.

Costume Designer: Wendell C. Carmichael   
Fight choreography: Christian Chan

Eclectic Company

The Eclectic Company Theatre
5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd. 
Valley Village, CA 91607 

(between Chandler and Magnolia)

WHEN: July 24- August 30, 2015. Fri. & Sat. at 8:00, Sun. at 2:00.

ADMISSION: $18.

RESERVATIONS: (818) 508-3003.

ONLINE TICKETING: www.eclecticcompanytheatre.org

Hollywood Fringe Announces 2015 Award Winners

Sixth Annual Festival Closes With a Bang

hfawards

Photo credit: Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

The 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival ended last night after crowning this year’s award winners at the annual Award Ceremony and Closing Night Party. Over 650 people attended the event.The Freak Awards are community-voted by Fringe participants and attendees. Winners included:

Click here to see a full list of award winners, including sponsored awards and extensions.

Hollywood Fringe

The sixth annual Fringe was a huge success according to festival organizers, with record-breaking online ticket sales and attendance. Official numbers and year-to-year comparisons will be released in the coming weeks after settlement is complete.

ABOUT HOLLYWOOD FRINGE

Hollywood Fringe Logo

The Hollywood Fringe Festival is an annual, open-access, community-derived event celebrating freedom of expression and collaboration in the performing arts community.  Each June during the Hollywood Fringe, the arts infiltrates the Hollywood neighborhood: Fully equipped theaters, parks, clubs, churches, restaurants and other unexpected places host hundreds of productions by local, national, and international arts companies and independent performers.

Participation in the Hollywood Fringe is completely open and uncensored. This free-for-all approach underlines the festival’s mission to be a platform for artists without the barrier of a curative body. By opening the gates to anyone with a vision, the festival is able to exhibit the most diverse and cutting-edge points-of-view the world has to offer. Additionally, by creating an environment where artists must self-produce their work, the Fringe motivates its participants to cultivate a spirit of entrepreneurialism in the arts.

Gia #HFF15 #Reviews : The Hamlet Mobile

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Hamlet, Shakespeare on the go

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There is a truly special performance happening at the Hollywood Fringe this year and you won’t find it in any of the normal standing Fringe venues on Hollywood’s Theatre Row.  You will however, get a heads-up on last minute pop-up locations in the area by following the Twitter handle @hamletmobile and also by checking the Twitter hashtag #hamletmobile.

Created by The Moving Shadow theatre company the Hamlet Mobile is featuring 8 short plays inspired by (and utilizing the language of) Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  It is totally FREE and no ticket reservations are allowed with one exception — if you are lucky enough to catch the truck, there are a limited number of viewing slots.  So you’ll have to sign up on the spot for a chance to participate.

“An experience like no other” is how this Shakespeare troupe on wheels is being billed and that might be the understatement of the day – of the Fringe really.  By happenstance, I caught up with these peeps last Saturday afternoon at a location around the corner from the Hudson Theatre and took the deep dive.

Totally immersive and interactive, you are escorted into a built out set van with players inside and outside talking with each other and with visitors.  It’s a doors closed, one on one theatre experience where at some point you will most likely be asked a question or asked to do something that participates in the story.  When I say AWESOME, the up close and personal of your 15 minutes won’t just be a sitting around on the floor, hanging with your homies kind of afternoon. Hamlet Mobile is an absolutely intriguing mind bender in that you are completely vulnerable to the intimacy of the moment and you will not know what is to happen next.

There are opportunities to see more than one show and you will be often invited to make origami while you wait your turn.  Best “brainchild” of the season produced by Monica Miklas and directed by Lauren Ludwig, this is how real artistry gets incubated right from the streets of Los Angeles into the hearts and minds of unsuspecting audiences, inviting the regular and non-regular theatre goers alike into our special world.

Simply deliciously what Fringe and what theatre is all about!

Very Highly Recommended

Get more information at the Hamlet Mobile official website:

http://www.hamlet-mobile.com/

You can also find them at: http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/2453

Gia #HFF15 #Reviews : 50 Shades of Shrew

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

BDSM, bondage, domination, sadism, masochism

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Taming of the Shrew has and is ever a problematic play to justify in the modern world of feminism and the independence of women. Why would any (at least Western) female today stand for the kind of treatment accorded to Kate who in normal versions of this Shakespearean classic is often looked upon with pity as a neglected daughter and on some levels an abused wife?  But add in a little bit of bondage and domination and oddly enough it all starts to make sense.

Directionally Broads’ World Theatre’s, 50 Shades rendition is occasionally a bit messy and almost gets in the way although never really does.  But it is nicely cast as a wholly female driven piece. And in this case, more than in many other all-female cast productions I’ve seen to date, it creates some very, very interesting and worthwhile dialog on the subject of relationships.

Whether by the fact that they are complicated, ‘feeling’, multidimensional females or just by the idea of it all, these ladies bring many more layers to the comedy than is often portrayed in a male/female circumstance.

The pre-show BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism, Masochism) instructional by professional dominatrix Mistress Kara is lengthy for the actual payoff during the show. But it does offer a base for which the uninitiated can understand the lifestyle and how it is manipulated within the presentation, where which a completely inoffensive and hardly uncomfortable version of bondage and submission is displayed.

In the original, Petruchio has always given Kate “tit for tat” but here he/she gives her a little something extra.  It’s the 100% playfulness of a smitten Petruchio and his absolute desire to challenge and tame a thoroughly wild Kate, in the overt acts of domination that enlivens the excessive bravado. He never actually hurts her, nor means to, emotionally or physically, but merely frustrates her and brings her to task and to life through his roughness and mildly inflicted discipline. Kate finally submitting to Petruchio adjusts the balance of power.  Kate realizing that her submissiveness gives her her own power, actually gives her more.  In every way she becomes a definitively equal partner and the one of Petruchio’s dreams.  The relationship is more meaningful for both and a happy ending so much more palatable for us. One might even go so far as to say that Petruchio is humbled by his wife’s willingness to be “under his foot”. Kate as a submissive still retains her strong independence. Petruchio’s masculinity remains intact. It’s a very satisfying balance between them.

A superior performance and use of the text by Dawn Alden (Petruchio) matched by an equally impressive Jen Albert (Katharina/Kate).

Highly Recommended.

Lounge Theatre (Lounge Theatre ) 6201 Santa Monica Boulevard

Saturday June 27 2015, 10:00 PM | 90 mins

Happy Birthday Will! Celebrate Shakespeare in Long Beach, CA

Shakespeare

William Shakespeare will officially be 450 years old on April 23rd, 2014.  The man who brought us “To be or not to be,” “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo,” “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes,” and so many other phrases that live on the tips of our tongues, is someone to celebrate! 

He coined over 1,700 new words — among them: majestic, champion, amazement, discontent, premeditated, bedroom, advertising, compromise, impartial, laughable, excitement, and so on…and on… and on! He created immortal lovers who fill us with passion, inspiring heroes who urge us to action or warn us against haste, and clowns that show us our own follies.

In 2000, he was voted The Man of the Millennium!

For the rest of the month here are a few events presented by the Long Beach Theatre Company that you can attend to celebrate the spirit of the bard.

lbsc-logoApril 18 and 19— Two half-hour old-time radio shows, both performed with live music and sound effects. 

Gunsmoke episode: “Shakespeare”—From 1952, a good story about a crazed Shakespearean actor who commits murder during a Kansas heat wave. 

“Mister Shakespeare”—From 1948, a story about what MIGHT happen if the greatest of all playwrights could come out of the past to work for a modern motion picture studio.

The Bard 450 years April 23— The Official Birthday. In partnership with World Book Night U.S., LBSC will give away a FREE copy of the Shakespeare Sonnets to each person in attendance. The actors will perform selected sonnets, followed by a reception with cake and beverages to celebrate Shakespeare’s birth!

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April 25 and 26— Richard Armour’s Twisted Tales From Shakespeare. A parody of serious lectures on the Bard. 

April 27 —LBSC presents the final event of Shakespeare Month. FREE! Louis Fantasia, Director of Shakespeare at the Huntington Library and former Director of the Shakespeare Globe Centre’s Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance Institute from 1997 to 2002, presents “King Lear or Survivor—Tragedy in The Age of Oprah.” 

At the Richard Goad Theatre, 4250 Atlantic Ave. in Long Beach.

Sunday performances at 2 pm; all others at 8 pm.

Tickets and info at LBShakespeare.org or 562-997-1494.

Hollywood Fringe Is Here!

 

Get Your Tickets Today!

Hollywood Fringe 2013

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

You won’t want to miss this…  June 13-30.

Since it’s inception, The Hollywood Fringe Festival has just gotten bigger and better every year.  A brilliant undertaking that has not only brought so much more attention to small theatre in Los Angeles, but has, re-vitalized theatre altogether in this city.

New and existing playwrights, outstanding scripts and performances, from musicals to drama, comedy improv and one man/woman shows to dance, (there’s film too!) that would not normally make it to the stage at all, are showcased here to audiences desperate for edge, art, entertainment and roller coaster ride experiences.

And one of the most fun aspects of this endeavor is that The Hollywood Fringe has successfully brought people back to Theatre Row and got them walking – YES WALKING in LOS ANGLES!, curious, adventurous and enjoying the urban life of Santa Monica Blvd and it’s partnering streets, vendors, theatres and more.

I’ve got a ton of tickets already and am trying to cram in more.  But if I had one recommendation to give anyone all year round, it would be to come for the authenticity!  

In the meantime, because of the enormous expansion of the festival, they could use a little help.

Our friend Colin Mitchell at Bitter Lemons, posted a letter today by Hollywood Fringe Festival Director, Ben Hill, talking about what it takes to, in just three years, become the largest performing arts festival West of the Mississippi. And, why an extra donation helps the artists who participate to receive 100% of the box office from their shows.  It’s a win win all around.

READ THE ARTICLE HERE

GO OUT AND GET SOME CULTURE!