The play’s the thing at UC Irvine, both onstage and off. This summer’s New Swan Shakespeare Festival in its 130-seat mini-Elizabethan theater features “A midsummer Night’s Dream,” opening July 6, and “The Winter’s Tale,” opening July 5. Known for contemporary takes on the classics—last season’s “The Taming of the Shrew” placed Petruchio and Kate in a 1970s punk rock milieu, for example—the festival promises more surprises.
“We’re looking for relevances to our lives and to the struggles that we’re facing. So for sure, if you come to our productions, you are not going to see a museum piece,” said Eli Simon, producing artistic director.
In conjunction with the plays, UCI’s Shakespeare Center offers Shakespeare Weekends, with seminars exploring the plays’ texts and demonstrations with the directors and actors: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on Aug. 11, and “The Winter’s Tale” on Aug. 12. “I want people to feel that Shakespeare belongs to them, is fun and accessible, full of unknown depths and heights, and is emotional, passionate, and beautiful,” said Julia Lupton, Shakespeare Center’s co-director.
Meanwhile, Lupton has organized “The Hamlet Trial” on April 11, which puts the dithering Danish prince on trial for the murder of Polonius and for sending Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths. Hamlet will be represented by UCI School of Law Dean L. Song Richardson; Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky
A Summer of Shakespeare
New Swan Shakespeare Festival
“The Hamlet Trial,” April 11
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” July 6 through Aug. 31
“The Winter’s Tale,” July 5 through Sept. 1
Shakespeare Weekends, Aug. 11 and 12
The Southern California Shakespeare Festival Guild in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” June 28 and 29
Published in the Spring/Summer 2018 issue of Premiere OC from the publishers of Orange Coast