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SCSF puts modern twist on ‘Comedy of Errors’

COE cast

What happens when Antipholus meets Antipholus and Dromio meets Dromio?

The pairs look alike, so it must mean that these are sets of twins, correct?

That is exactly the case. In William Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors,” a Syracusan man and his servant run into their twin brothers in the Greek city of Ephesus. When friends and families of the twins in Ephesus mistake them for the Syracuse pair, a series of wild mishaps lead to all manner of dubious outcomes – including unjust beatings, near-seduction and arrests.

The Shakespearean comedy will play out on stage this September at the Cal Poly Pomona Studio Theatre, courtesy of The Southern California Shakespeare Festival (SCSF) – a program run by Cal Poly Pomona Department of Theatre and New Dance faculty member Linda Bisesti.

Bisesti, the festival’s founder and artistic director, says that for its 13th season, SCSF will be making some modern adjustments to one of the Bard’s earliest works that will put a fresh coat of paint on a play more than 400 years old.

Taking an already bizarre story over the top, the city of Ephesus becomes Venice Beach and Syracuse changed to San Diego. The carnival-like nature of Venice Beach will be played up with a pre-show performance of circus acts that will bleed into the main performance.

Bisesti said much of the play’s reimagining stems from director Sam Robinson, who will also invert genders of the characters to place women in men’s positions, and vice versa. Antipholus becomes Anna-Maria, and Dromio becomes Darian.

“The roles are gender-bended, so the husband and wife’s roles get reexamined in terms of gendering,” Bisesti says. “Part of my belief is that Shakespeare is gender-blind and colorblind. The Elizabethans did Shakespeare with all men, and now it’s time to do it with all sorts of different people and changing their roles.”

Under the umbrella of the Cal Poly Pomona Department of Theatre and New Dance, Bisesti says part of SCSF’s main goal is to provide students an opportunity to perform and work with Shakespeare’s plays.

This season’s performance includes a cast and crew of nearly 30 current Cal Poly Pomona students and alumni. Bisesti says it’s important for young actors to get a handle on Shakespeare, and helping them accomplish that was one reason why she founded SCSF in 2004.

“You really can’t train actors without good classical work, so I’m committed to providing them with that as the artistic director,” Bisesti says. “Language is one of the most important things you can train young actors in, and the really wonderful actors have all been trained in language and they know how to do Shakespeare.”

Teaching students to understand Shakespeare is no small labor, either.

“The language is 450 years old, so you have to make the actors walk up to it and you can’t dumb it down,” Bisesti says. “Actors have to actually understand the form of rhetoric Shakespeare is using, and it’s their job to persuade the viewer to the point of view of the character.”

Cal Poly Pomona theatre student Kaitlyn Tice played Petruchio in the Department of Theatre and New Dance’s 2016 production of “Taming of the Shrew,” but will perform during “The Comedy of Errors” preshow and handle things more on the production side of SCSF this season.

“One of the reasons I decided to come to Cal Poly Pomona is because of the Southern California Shakespeare Festival,” she says. “I’m a huge proponent of Shakespeare, and I think this production of ‘Comedy of Errors’ is an interesting take on how well you really know your partners and know yourself.”

Cara Vilencia, who will play the courtesan in this season’s production, says she feels the modern edits that Robinson and Bisesti are making to “The Comedy of Errors” will appeal to a wider variety of attendees.

“I think it’s cool we’re doing something more modern because it will help bring in a current audience to see what we’re doing on stage,” she says, “and it helps them understand what’s going on because a lot of people don’t speak Shakespearean language.”

All in all, Bisesti says people should consider seeing “The Comedy of Errors” if they appreciate Shakespeare and a hearty laugh.

“It’s a fun, frivolous and ridiculous comedy about mistaken identity, people who behave badly and get caught,” she says. “It’s somewhat farcical and probably more so than other Shakespeare plays, so I think that element in and of itself will be celebrated in this production.”

“The Comedy of Errors” opens at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Cal Poly Pomona Studio Theatre. The production continues its run at Cal Poly Pomona at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 23, 29, 30 and Oct. 6-7. Matinee shows are at 2 p.m. on Sept. 24, Oct. 1 and 8.

SCSF will also perform the play at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 at the School of Arts and Enterprise in Downtown Pomona.

Tickets are $20 general admission and $15 for students, staff and senior citizens.

For more information about performances or tickets, visit www.classcsupomona.tix.com.

– Chris Bashaw, Department of Theatre and New Dance at Cal Poly Pomona



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL PRESENTS:

 As You Like It

Opening SEPTEMBER 8

Press/Media Contact: Linda Bisesti/310-993-3735 or lfbisesti@cpp.edu

Matthew Guerra  mattguerra@gmail.com

WHAT: As You Like It, the classic comedy

WHO: Written by William Shakespeare. Produced by Southern California Shakespeare Festival, SCSF, directed by Stephanie Courtney

WHERE: Studio Theatre, on the campus of Cal Poly Pomona, 3801 W. Temple Ave., Building 25, Pomona, CA 91768.

WHEN: September 8- October 9, 2016. Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Also, Fridays, m. Gala reception follows Saturday, September 24th performance.

ADMISSION: $20.00/Seniors, students, Cal Poly Faculty/Staff, $15.

RESERVATIONS: (909) 869-3987 or 909-869-3900

ONLINE TICKETING: http://classcsupomona.tix.com

WEBSITE: http://www.cpp.edu/~scsf/

SPECIAL ADDED PERFORMANCES:  Saturday September 10 at 7:00p.m. and Sunday September 11 at 2:00 p.m. at The School of Arts and Enterprise, 295 N. Garey Ave., Pomona, CA 91767. Available online at www.saetix.com

Friday , September 16 and 17, 7:00p.m.  at the Mayfield Senior School, 500 Bellefontaine Street, Pasadena, Ca. 91105

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The Southern California Shakespeare Festival, SCSF, is excited to present Shakespeare's enduring masterpiece, As You Like It, directed by Stephanie Courtney.

 

Originally set in a fictitious French Court and its surrounding forest, Courtney is reimaging this comedy on a private estate and the surrounding desert, where sibling rivalry boils over into treachery. The community's favorites are banished by jealous relatives to an unknown wasteland.Expected to suffer in such remote terrain, our outcasts discover a new way of life, explore new identities, and find the freedom to pursue love and a utopian existence among the quirky and charming native inhabitants of this strange and wonderful landscape.

 

Not to be overshadowed by themes of gender identity, pseudo homosexuality, or existential questions of life's meaning, As You Like It is a beautiful comedy about falling in love, pursuing love and (every woman's dream scenario) teaching lovers how to love - because it doesn't necessarily come naturally.

Come follow the curious love story of Shakespeare's favorite heroine, Rosalind, into an unknown world, where we are all at the mercy of nature, and watch her tame the unruly passions of Orlando in order to make him her perfect bridegroom.

Directed by Stephanie Courtney who graduated from the prestigious Trinity Rep program with an M.F.A degree in Directing and with an B.A. degree in Theatre from CSULB. She is currently Producer/Artistic Director at Fortune’s Fool Productions in Dublin, Ireland and teaches at PCPA.  Directorial credits include Comedy of Errors, Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo & Juliet, The Tempest, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream among many others.

The Southern California Shakespeare Festival production of As You Like It cast includes Jacques played by Sam Robinson; Celia: Marissa Pitts; Rosalind: Natalie Roy Wilson; Touchstone: Andrew Wilson; and Adam played by Linda Bisesti. Students and Alumni from the Department of Theatre and New Dance at Cal Poly Pomona are also members of the ensemble.

The production is performed under Actors Equity’s 99 Seat Plan. The Southern California Shakespeare Festival is a professional company in residence at the Cal Poly Pomona Department of Theatre and New Dance.

Festival Artistic Director: Linda Bisesti. Stage manager: Kristy Priest, Assistant Stage Managers: Joanna Lopez, and Bianca Leanos; Set design: Gaby Robles; Lighting design: Clayton Fournival; Sound design: Gerard Marquez; Costume design, Gaby Robles and Properties: Jackie Gill.  Marie Maslowski is the Festival Production Manager and Box Office Coordinator along with Spencer Saccoman/Assistant Festival Production Manager for SCSF.


By Examiner.com

09/13/15

The Southern California Shakespeare Festival (SCSF), in residence at Cal Poly Pomona (CPP)’s Studio Theatre, is presenting William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” until Oct. 4, 2015. The play is directed by this year’s SCSF’s guest director, David Fox, who is regularly a professor of theatre at Massachusetts’ Wheaton College.

One of The Bard’s great tragedies, “Macbeth” tells the story of a man who, feeling quite reassured by superhuman voices (three witches), allows his ambition to get the best of him, only to his demise. Some of Shakespeare’s greatest lines are part of this play.

At SCSF, the major roles are performed by professional actors. They include CPP’s alumni and professors at this school and other Los Angeles’ universities. Secondary characters are played by student actors. The combination contributes to a diverse and multi-cultured cast.

Macbeth is performed by Robert Shields, a CPP graduate who does well portraying a successful soldier that in front of the audience devolves into a crazed murderer. Another CPP alumnus, Daniella Tarankow, does well as a pushy Lady Macbeth that uses her sensual charms to encourage her husband to treason. Two supporting actors do a particularly fine job – Jasmine Mosebar, currently a CPP senior, is as Hecate every bit as scary as a ruler of witches should be, projecting a strong voice and a wild manner. On the other hand, current graduate student at CSULA Marissa Pitts, as Lady MacDuff, delivers the most believable (horrifying) death in this play, which has many.

This production sets “Macbeth” in an ambiguous war time period, in modern dress. There are a couple of interesting props, like a witches’ pot that seems to really brew, and a decapitated head in a sac inside of which you can devise an open eye.

While it is generally easier to deal with a comedy than a tragedy, “Macbeth” at SCFS is engaging, keeping the crowd interested and alert.

Studio Theatre is an intimate space, with the action happening only a few feet away from you. The play is just over two hours long, with a 15-minute intermission.


05/6/15

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL (SCSF) PRESENTS

MACBETH

  OPENS SEPTEMBER 5

WHAT: Macbeth. The classic drama.

WHO: Written by William Shakespeare. Directed by David Fox. Produced by Southern California Shakespeare Festival (SCSF).

WHERE: Studio Theatre, on the campus of Cal Poly Pomona, 3801 W. Temple Ave.,  Building 25, Pomona, CA 91768.

WHEN: September 5- October 4, 2015. Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Also, Friday, September 25 at 8:00 p.m. Gala reception follows Saturday, September 5performance.

ADMISSION: $15. Seniors, students, Cal Poly faculty/staff, $12.

RESERVATIONS: (909) 869-3987.

ONLINE TICKETING: http://classcsupomona.tix.com

WEBSITE: www.southerncaliforniashakespearefestival.org

SPECIAL ADDED COMMUNITY PERFORMANCES:  Thursday, September 10 and Friday, September 11 at 7:00 p.m. at The School of Arts and Enterprise, 295 N. Garey Ave., Pomona, CA 91767. Tickets: $10.00. Available online at www.saetix.com

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           Macbeth is the famous play about a Scottish king who, subsequent to a great military success, rises to the highest office in the land by questionable means, and positions himself for a great fall due to his overreaching desires. The classic drama depicts a tale of better ideals overwhelmed by misguided ambition, and the runaway exercise of unchecked imperial power leading to extravagant bloodshed and then, revolution. The play remains popular because it resonates with 21st Century audiences. And how.

            Director David Fox offers his thoughts: “ This is a war-weary society. The trauma of constant battle and death has taken an emotional toll on men, women, and children. The moral compass is broken. People are not thinking clearly. Suspicion and desperation permeate   the air. Everyone is vulnerable to temptation, the solicitations of the subconscious and/or supernatural.”

            Fox is the guest director at Southern California Shakespeare Festival (SCSF) this year. He is a professor of theatre at Massachusetts’ Wheaton College. His directing credits include The Bald Soprano, Waiting For Godot, The Trojan Women, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Pillowman, and Macbeth.

            The Southern California Shakespeare Festival (SCSF) production of Macbeth boasts the Festival’s largest cast ever. Robert Shields portrays the title character, and Daniella Tarankow plays his queen. The cast also includes Nathaniel Akstin-Johnson, Kevyn Allen, Delfina Barrios, Linda Bisesti, Collin Bressie, Hannah Bunker, Annie Dennis, William Dinwiddie, Kristopher Dowling, Andrew Garcia, Samantha Girod, Alejandro Jimenez, Andrea Lopez, Valerie Lopez, Christine Menzies, Jasmine Mosebar, Odanis Perez, Marissa Pitts, Matthew Reidy, Sam Robinson and Victor Rodriguez.

            The production is performed under Actors Equity’s 99 Seat Plan. Professional actors perform all the major roles, with students performing secondary characters. The Southern California Shakespeare Festival (SCSF) is a professional company in residence at the Cal Poly Pomona Department of Theatre and New Dance.

            The show is costumed in modern dress, not tying it to any specific time period in a bid to universalize the action.

Festival Artistic Director: Linda Bisesti. Stage manager: Stage manager: Joyce Hwang, Assistant Stage Managers:  Joanna Lopez and Sofia Irogoyen, Set design: Sonia Fracasso. Lighting design: Clayton Fournival with William Spry. Sound design: Spencer Saccoman. Properties: Gaby Robles. Costume design: Val Philyaw.

            In conjunction with the Festival’s eleventh year, the Festival is making significant outreach to its surrounding communities. In addition to the regular performances at Studio Theatre at Cal Poly Pomona, there will be two community performances at The School of Arts and Enterprise (noted above). There will additionally be selected scenes from Macbeth performed at the Pomona Fringe Festival on Saturday, August 22 at 7:00 p.m. at dA Center for the Arts, 252 S. Main St., Pomona, CA 91766 (http://daartcenter.org)  

            Over five centuries since its initial performance, Macbeth still captures the imagination and attention of audiences.

 

 


By Diana Sholley, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Southern California Shakespeare Festival

What: Southern California Shakespeare Festival presents “Julius Caesar.”

Where: Studio Theatre, Cal Poly Pomona, 3801 W. Temple Ave., Building 25, Pomona.

When: 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 13-Oct. 5 and 8 p.m. Sept. 26.

Tickets: $15; $12, seniors/students/Cal Poly faculty and staff.

Information: 909-869-3900, classcsupomona.tix.com,

  www.southerncaliforniashakespearefestival.org

There are only nine shows during the Southern California Shakespeare Festival and two are all ready sold out.

It’s been a steady growth in popularity for the SCSF, a professional company in residence at the Cal Poly Pomona Theatre and New Dance Department. To celebrate its 10th season, the festival is performing “Julius Caesar,” a play centered around the assassination of the Roman ruler.

“Julius Caesar,” staged at Cal Poly’s Studio 81-seat Black Box theater, runs from Sept. 13 through Oct. 5. The story gives a glimpse into politics, which producers say is still relevant today.

“The political ‘circus,’ filled with the smartest and most influential minds in world, displays to us what happens when the fear of change and loss of prestige turns suits to swords and the quest for honor into myopic justification of foul deeds. Open up the paper, turn on the TV, stream it online — the story of Julius Caesar and the world that Shakespeare gave to us 500 years ago is still here,” according Josh Machamer’s director’s notes. “If you’ve seen the present, then you’ve seen everything — as it’s been since the beginning, as it will be forever.”

But they take it further — right to the 21st Century, with title role played by a female actor. A veteran to the stage, Linda Bisesti is portraying a woman Julius Caesar.

“Gender-bending in the casting is not new for the festival; Lisa Wolpe portrayed Richard III in 2011,” said Bisesti, who is also the festival’s artistic director. “The festival has consistently practiced non-traditional casting and a number of the roles in the 2014 production have been cast without limitation by race nor gender.”

Another unique aspect of this festival is the collaboration between professionals and students.

“They work side-by-side equity actors and directors with students who plan to make theater their career,” said Bisesti, who has had many guest appearances on television and in film.Bisesti, who holds a Masters in Fine Arts from Boston University, is a member of the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company and has appeared on stage in such productions as “Hamlet,” “Othello,” “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “As You Like it” and “The Merchant of Venice.”

This year is the fourth time Machamer has guest directed for SCSF. He lent his expertise previously when he directed the festival’s “Hamlet,” “Twelfth Night” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” Bisesti commended Machamer’s creative decisions including performing the piece in the round to emulate a circus ring, emphasizing the political circus.“This particular version of the play has been deconstructed with scenes taken out of sequence in order to show more closely how a society behaves when asked to define and defend the conflicting ideas of freedom and democracy,” Machamer said. “Set against a background of civil unrest and political uncertainty, Julius Caesar showcases the fall of a once mighty republic and the political leaders who clash publicly and privately over their ideals of power.”

Reach the author at diana.sholley@inlandnewspapers.com or follow Diana on Twitter: @DianaSholley.

Article Link: http://www.dailybulletin.com/arts-and-entertainment/20140902/southern-california-shakespeare-festival-celebrates-10-years-with-a-julius-caesar-twist



Julius  Caesar Press Release / Season Ten, 2014


SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL PRESENTS ITS TENTH ANNIVERSARY PRODUCTION: LINDA BISESTI AS “JULIUS CAESAR”;

OPENS SEPTEMBER 13, 2014

WHAT: “Julius Caesar.” A play.

WHO: Written by William Shakespeare. Directed by Josh Machamer. Presented by Southern California Shakespeare Festival.

WHERE: Studio Theatre, on the campus of Cal Poly Pomona, 3801 W. Temple Ave.,  Building 25, Pomona, CA 91768.

WHEN: September 13- October 5, 2014. Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Also, Friday, September 26 at 8:00 p.m. Gala reception follows Saturday, September 13 performance.

ADMISSION: $15. Seniors, students, Cal Poly faculty/staff, $12.

RESERVATIONS: (909) 869-3800.

 ONLINE TICKETING: http://classcsupomona.tix.com

WEBSITE: www.southerncaliforniashakespearefestival.org

            “Julius Caesar” relates the fall of the Roman dictator of the title, murdered by conspirators before he can become absolute monarch of the Roman Empire by public acclamation. Only one of the assassins, Caesar’s beloved friend Brutus, acts in what he truly believes are the best interests of the Roman Republic. The others have more selfish motives. Caesar dies midway through Shakespeare’s play. The remainder of the action concerns what comes after, including the fates of the conspirators, and the political manipulation of the Roman masses.

            Nonetheless, the play is called “Julius Caesar” for a reason, and in this Tenth Anniversary production of the Southern California Shakespeare Festival, the eponymous character will be played by the Festival’s Artistic Director, Linda Bisesti. Gender-bending in the casting is not new for the Festival; Lisa Wolpe portrayed Richard III in 2011. The Festival has consistently practiced non-traditional casting, and a number of the roles in the 2014 production have been cast without limitation by race nor gender.

            Josh Machamer directs. He elaborates on his approach to the material: “Set against a background of civil unrest and political uncertainty, Julius Caesar showcases the fall of a once mighty republic and the political leaders who clash publicly and privately over their ideals of power. This particular version of the play has been deconstructed with scenes taken out of sequence in order to show more closely how a society behaves when asked to define and defend the conflicting ideas of freedom and democracy.”

             The cast includes these members of Actors Equity: Linda Bisesti, Michael Kachingwe, Marissa Pitts, Sam Robinson, C. Julian White, Peter Wittrock and Katrinka Wolfson; and other professional actors including Nathaniel Akstin-Johnson, Annie Dennis, Nicholas Ferreira, Adriana Flores, Emme Geissal, Samantha Girod, Ajouraye Jefferson, Alejandro Jimenez, Karina Lopez, Richard Pluim, Steve Polites, and Robert Shields.

            Akstin-Johnson, Dennis, Ferreira, Pluim and Shields are alumni of Cal Poly Pomona, where the Studio Theatre is located.

            Machamer previously directed “Hamlet,” “Twelfth Night” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor for Southern California Shakespeare Festival. His other directing credits include “Blood Wedding,” “Accidental Death of an Anarchist,” “Largo Desolato,” “What The Butler Saw,” “Sweeney Todd,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and much more. He has participated as an artist all over the world. The recipient of an MFA from Penn State, he is a faculty member of Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts. He is also the Chair for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo General Education Governance Board.

            Linda Bisesti (Caesar in this production, and Artistic Director of Southern California Shakespeare Festival) has appeared in many episodic television shows and independent feature films. The recipient of an MFA from Boston University, School of the Arts. Professor Bisesti is the Head of Acting in the B.A. Theatre Arts program at Cal Poly Pomona.  Her stage credits include roles in “Hamlet,” “Othello,” “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “As You Like it,” “The  Merchant of Venice,” “Shear Madness,” “Inspecting Carol” (at Laguna Playhouse; Back Stage West Garland Awaard), and much more. She is a member of the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company.

            Southern CaIifornia Shakespeare Festival is a professional company in residence at the Cal Poly Pomona Theatre and New Dance Department, operating under the Actors Equity 99-Seat Plan.


Richard III - Season 2011

Robert Shields and Daniella Tarankow

Power and Mania at its Worst in ‘Richard III’

Manipulative and vicious, Shakespeare’s “Richard III” stops at nothing to seize power and the throne, marrying the widow of a prince he murdered, killing his wife, executing his older brother and ordering the deaths of his young nephews. Director and lead actor Lisa Wolpe promises a swift, passionate performance about politics and power — and really crazy people.

Robert Shields and Daniella Tarankow rejoin the Southern California Shakespeare Festival for its production of “Richard III.” Last summer, the theatre majors performed in “Hamlet” (shown at left).

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