GRIFFITH PARK FREE SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL 2012, the largest summer theater event in the City of Los Angeles, begins its performances June 28. This year ISC is offering over 40 nights of programming. In addition to the productions, there are nine PLAYERS IN THE PARK/JUGAMOS EN EL PARQUE pre-show workshops on select evenings. These workshops are an interactive, entertaining way for families to learn about the evening's performance. There are also these are lectures on topics related to Shakespeare as well as curtain-raising performances by local musicians and dancers.
The festival will open Thursday night, June 28 with Shakespeare's rarely-produced romance, The Winter's Tale, directed by Sanford Robbins. Alongside that are two of his most popular comedies, A Midsummer Night's Dream (opening Thursday, July 5) and The Comedy of Errors (opening Thursday, August 2), both directed by ISC Artistic Director, Melissa Chalsma who will also take the stage as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
"This season an audience can expect to be involved in the action in a really direct way. We strive to make connections with our audience that are unexpected and engaging. With every production, we are working to connect not only the actors to the audience, but the audience to each other," Artistic Director Melissa Chalsma notes, "The Festival in the park is a great fit for LA. It's a theater, yes, but it's also a place you can stretch out on a blanket, eat, talk to your neighbor, play Frisbee before the show, tweet about what you thought about Act Three, bring your kids...it's this great combination: professional theater in an absolutely informal setting."
The 2011 season boasted record attendance of more than 25,000, making it the largest summer theater event in the City of Los Angeles and the largest Shakespeare Festival in Los Angeles. ISC builds its festival stage at the site of the Old Zoo (near the Carousel), a natural amphitheater conveniently located next to ample parking.
In addition to the productions, there are nine PLAYERS IN THE PARK/JUGAMOS EN EL PARQUE pre-show workshops on select evenings. These workshops are an interactive, entertaining way for families to learn about the evening's performance. Led by ISC Teaching Artists, workshop participants learn about Shakespeare's language, theatrical staging, and what to look for in the play they will be seeing. They also get to speak lines of dialogue from the stage, and have a backstage tour and meet the actors.
In 2011, ISC received a substantial grant from the James Irvine Foundation in order to expand this workshop series to include bilingual families. ISC created study guide materials in Spanish and English as well as a Spanish-language web portal, and now offer the workshops in both Spanish and English. Through these measures and other significant outreach into the Latino community, ISC increased attendance to the Festival by Latinos: in 2012, 19% of the audience identified themselves as Latino.
ISC Acting Company members are some of Los Angeles's most seasoned stage professionals. Their experience ranges from Broadway, London's West End, major US regional theaters, and some of LA's best venues. ISC is also one of the few theaters in Los Angeles performing under a paid contract with Actors' Equity Association. It also offers health and pension benefits to its Union performers, something only a handful of LA theaters do, all of whom have substantially larger budgets.
The Winters Tale (June 28 – July 29) by William Shakespeare
Directed by Sanford Robbins
In Sicilia, all is well. Peace reigns, and the King and Queen are happily expecting a child. But when King Leontes becomes consumed with the thought that his best friend and his wife are betraying him, one misunderstanding spirals into tragedy. Indifferent to the word of the Gods, reason, or natural sentiment, he resigns his wife, son, and unborn child to a dreadful fate.
As the years roll on, however, a very different destiny is evolving on the island of Bohemia. Rustic and wild, it is a place where love prevails and music and humor are rampant. When the two worlds intersect, miracles come to pass.
Shakespeare's great romance challenges our expectations: folding time and genre into a unique work of art that reveals the essential, humane nature of the author.
Scenic design is by Caitlin Lainoff; costumes by Garry Lennon; and lighting by Bosco Flanagan