Thursday, July 31, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Local theater companies offering summer Shakespeare

Gia Battista is Amiens and Matthew Edwards is Jacques in the Davis Shakespeare Ensemble's production of "As You Like It." Davis Shakespeare Ensemble/Courtesy photo

By
From page A9 | June 18, 2013 |

Got a hankering for summer Shakespeare? There are several close-to-home opportunities this year, with four local companies mounting productions in Yolo County this summer.

Already up and running is the Davis Shakespeare Ensemble’s production of “As You Like It,” which is perhaps the most pastoral of Shakespeare’s comedies. Much of the action takes place in the Eden-like Forest of Arden, which director Rob Salas interprets as the deep woods of Southern Appalachia in this production. The venue for the show is the Gazebo in the UC Davis Arboretum — surrounded by trees and greenery — a location that blends with the director’s concept.

Within this dense (but friendly) forest, several exiled nobles — banished by a suspicious, usurping Duke — find they can relax and enjoy the rustic charms of rural life. Essentially, they’re on an extended campout (like Robin Hood and his Merry Men), with a seemingly plentiful supply of venison to roast over a fire. And love seems to blossom spontaneously in this natural setting.

There’s also a plucky woman named Rosalind (who passes herself off as a boy), and the script contains one of the most famous speeches in all of Shakespeare (“All the world’s a stage”).

For this production, director Salas puts particularly focus on the songs. Shakespeare’s script provides the lyrics, but not the tunes — this production uses original melodies by former UCD student Richard Chowenhill, now pursuing a Ph.D. at Brandeis. Chowenhill leads a live four-piece band (including banjo and mandolin), which plays in many scenes.

“The songs are often underused in many productions,” Salas said, “but for us, the music has been the entry point from the get-go. I like the lyrics, and the way they talk about nature; and the tonal quality led us to a sound that resembles Ozark music, with a somewhat dark edge.”

Salas said he’s cut a fair amount of material from the play’s early scenes, which are preoccupied with political paranoia as a usurping Duke lashes out at those around him, sending several courtiers into exile.

“I feel we need to get the story into the forest as fast as possible,” he said. “And we use the music, even in those early city scenes, to pull our characters toward the forest.” Once the story moves into the trees, life becomes much more pleasant, and romance blossoms.

Given that the show is performed outdoors in the evening, Salas recommends bringing “some bug spray, and a sweatshirt on the colder nights.” Performances are Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 6:30 p.m., through June 30. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students/seniors, $10 for 12 and under, available at www.shakespearedavis.com or 530-802-0998.

Common House Productions, a relatively new group, is doing outdoor productions of Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” (alternating with Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest) on the Wyatt Deck overlooking Putah Creek, near the Wyatt Pavilion on the UCD campus.

“Love’s Labour’s Lost” is another largely pastoral comedy involving a young and single king and three young lords, who decide (in a moment of noble but unrealistic intent) to devote themselves to three years of contemplative academic pursuits, swearing off the company of women (and fasting periodically to boot).

Needless to say, these gentlemen’s studious plan goes awry when a beautiful princess and three ladies set up camp in a field nearby, and comic episodes ensue as the men disguise themselves and try to meet the women.

According to dramaturg Vanessa Rapatz, the Common House production incorporates a “steampunk” motif, with costumes recalling the formal  look (and 19th century technology) of the Victorian era.

The companion production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” will be moved from the late 1800s to the 1910s-20s — think “Downton Abbey.” And as Rapatz points out, “both scripts feature a battle of the sexes, so they play off each other, which is fun.”

“Love’s Labour’s Lost” plays July 6, 12, 14, 18 and 20. “The Importance of Being Earnest” plays July 5, 7, 11, 13, 19 and 21. All shows are at 8 p.m. on the Wyatt Deck at UCD. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students/seniors, with a discount if you reserve for both shows. For online tickets, go to commonhouseproductions.com.

Acme Theatre Company — the long-established local youth theater group — will present “Romeo and Juliet,” Shakespeare’s tragedy about young star-crossed lovers, on Aug. 2-4 and 8-11 indoors at the Brunelle Performance Hall at Davis High School, 315 W. 14th St.

“We will be doing a play about teenagers with real teenagers,” said director Emily Henderson, who was a teenage member of Acme herself some years back, before she left for college studies at Wellesley. Henderson returned to Acme as artistic director in 2008.

Not only will there be teenagers in the Acme cast, there will actually be two casts: one all-female, the other male-and-female. (Shakespeare, in his day, worked with an all-male acting company.)

As Henderson notes, “As an actor, I had the opportunity to spend four years of my life as a member of the Wellesley College Shakespeare Society, acting in nothing but all-female Shakespeare productions. I found the experience of portraying men at first challenging, then profoundly liberating, then exhilarating, and then just mountains of fun!” So she’s creating a similar opportunity at Acme.

What’s more, Henderson is setting the play in “a contemporary world, with sectarian violence — one where peacekeepers have been sent in to resolve a local feud using military force, like the U.N. troops coming into a civil-war-torn country.”

The production also will be color-coded, with characters allied with the Montague family wearing black, and characters allied with the Capulets wearing white. The peacekeepers will wear gray.

“Color will be very political,” Henderson advised. “We will have the military peacekeepers trying to sustain a truce, we will have friars promoting nonviolence, and we will have the leaders of the two families, who are not really interested in resolving anything.”

“Romeo and Juliet” also includes a good deal of swordplay, with deadly outcomes. Acme is bringing in an alumnus — Dan Renkin, a one-time Acme member who now lives in New York and has served as a fight choreographer with several Broadway shows and Metropolitan Opera productions — to work with Acme’s teens on handling the stage daggers and longer blades.

Seating will be limited to 90 seats arranged around the Brunelle Theatre’s stage. Acme’s all-female cast will perform on Aug. 2 (4 p.m.), Aug. 4 (4 p.m.) and Aug. 10 (2 and 7 p.m.). The mixed-gender cast will perform on Aug. 3 (7 p.m.), Aug. 8 (7 p.m.), Aug. 9 (7 p.m.) and Aug. 11 (4 p.m.)

Tickets are $12 in advance or $14 at the door for adults, $10 in advance or $12 at the door for students/seniors. Tickets are available online at romeojuliet.brownpapertickets.com.

Winters Theatre Company will stage its own production, “As You Like It.” Performance dates are Fridays and Saturdays, Aug. 9-10 and 16-17. The show starts at 8 p.m. in the outdoor amphitheater overlooking Putah Creek at the Winters Community Center, 201 Railroad Ave.

“A lot of people come early and bring their lawn chairs and a picnic dinner,” said director Howard Hupe. “We have been doing these shows for 10 or 12 years; the amphitheater is one of the nicest outdoor venues in Yolo County.”

He added that the Winters Theatre Company likes to “open Shakespeare up to everybody” by focusing on a fairly traditional and easy-to-follow approach to the script, and keeping the ticket prices “very reasonable” — $5 general, with children under 12 free (accompanied by an adult).

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8055.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Local therapists bring ‘Daring Greatly’ movement to Davis

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Davis area youths learn wilderness survival skills

    By Charlotte Orr | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Crews battle grass fire near Davis

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Sorting out the claims after pipe break: Who pays?

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Governor says immigration solution is a priority

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Firefighters keep Yosemite blaze far from sequoias

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Police nab three for vehicle theft

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    As farmland subsides, aquifer worries mount

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Pogledich named Yolo County counsel

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Tuleyome launches Kickstarter campaign to publish a children’s nature book

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Davis teen on California team for national horticulture competition

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Truth and authenticity on radio program

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Senior sing-along held monthly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    .

    Forum

    A rose by any other name

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Civilians are innocent victims

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Thanks for your kindnesses

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Questions, questions, questions

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Speak out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    Ross Douthat: Democrat, Republican patterns are changing

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A6

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Sports

    River Cats snap three-game losing streak

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Davis Water Polo U10 girls are golden

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1, 1 Comment

    Aggie Silva mixed school and strikes; wins Reno tourney

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Lucky No. 7: Giants snap losing streak

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Davis Rugby teams wrap up summer season

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    DHS tryout schedule updated; physical packets due

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    49ers WR Brandon Lloyd enjoying return to NFL

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Hammel struggles in A’s loss to Astros

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    Happy 103rd birthday!

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A2

     
    Fay Libet: 100 years young

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Future subscriber: Sonya Theresa Arnold

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Wedding: Alpers – Halprin Jackson

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Engagement: Snyder-Oerman

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Arts

    Hot City heats up Winters gazebo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Enjoy some Mischief at First Saturday event

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    British organist to play in Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Native American dancers to perform in Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Winters stages ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Landscape exhibition returns to Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Hear live music at Monticello

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    New KDRT show features touring musicians

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Thursday, July 31, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6