Sayonara, Shakespeare!

September 8, 2013 § 1 Comment

ScanIt’s over.

Sunday, September 1, the curtain came down on Independent Shakespeare Company’s 10th season of free performances.

That’s a metaphoric curtain, of course, since ISC performs on a bare bones, temporary stage in a natural amphitheater located where Griffith Park’s old zoo once stood.

We were there, cheering along with approximately 996 others, at the conclusion of As You Like It, the third of this year’s ISC’s productions, which included She Stoops to Conquer and Macbeth.

The actors in AYLI were brilliant, as usual, although the staging was a little flat and static in places. No matter; the company’s venture into Restoration comedy (She Stoops to Conquer) was cleverly done and Macbeth’s Melissa Chalsma and Luis Galindo nailed the lead couple’s unbridled and desperate ambition.

We’ve attended ISC performances for maybe eight years and, over time, seen actors grow and productions expand. The fairy costumes for 2012’s Midsummer’s Night Dream  deserved an award for their gold lame weirdness, which conveyed the scary-dream nature of the queer beings that wore them. ISC fight scenes are always beautifully choreographed (if that’s not an oxymoron), Macbeth’s being exceptionally bloody this year.

ISC’s apocryphal tale of their origins is that at their first performance, the audience consisted of 14 people and a dog—and the dog left at intermission. That doesn’t happen now. L.A. has discovered that Thursdays through Sundays throughout the summer, sitting in front of the ISC stage is the place to be. The company reports that 43,000 people attended this year’s performances.

I think of ISC as “the little Shakespeare company that could.” Melissa Chalsma and David Melville came to L.A. and started with almost nothing but determination and a wonderful rapport with Shakespeare’s language. I especially appreciate how they showcase actors of diverse ethnicities and races and reach out to audiences across language, class and race.

Luckily, ISC has found a permanent home in Atwater Crossing so their productions will continue through the winter. Cyrano, Romeo & Juliet, plus David Melville’s old chestnut, A Christmas Carol with Charles Dickens are on the schedule.

As for me, I’ve already marked June 24 on my 2014 calendar, ready for next season’s Twelfth Night, Richard III, and Taming of the Shrew.


This just in: ISC’s Thank You for Coming video.

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