I had a great time last night (and this morning) on the campus of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California, participating in the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company‘s celebration of both the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death, as well as the kick-off for their 20th anniversary season.
After a great opening filled with a video recap of the last two decades, readings, the presentation of a Thousand Oaks proclamation, scenes and food, I delivered my presentation on Time in Romeo and Juliet…
Despite some tech glitches (not unexpected, but disappointing nonetheless), the presentation went well. Most of the audience looked engaged, and I could see some members of the audience were seeing things differently for the first time.
I’m hoping to post a video snippet or two in the coming week.
As I relaxed after that (and prepped for the panel to follow), the KSC’s Educational Tour did some drama exercises with the audience and presented their newly created mini-Tempest, delivered as if it was a two-person human movie trailer:
Then I moderated a panel discussion with the directors of this year’s Festival productions, Michael J. Arndt (Henry V) and Brett Elliott (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Arndt, a professor at Cal Lu, is a founding member of the company as well as the Artistic Director; Elliott is an original member of the company, too, and is also the Associate Artistic Director.
It was a fascinating discussion. Inspired by the current election cycle (and how the media is covering it), Arndt has come up with an insightful vision for Henry V: to make the Chorus not only a story-telling device, but also to make her almost an audience surrogate, and allow her to both show us what the Henry wants us to know, but to also–by use of counterpoint and juxtaposition–to show us the not-so-heroic side. Elliott’s concept for Midsummer is no less striking: turn of the 20th Century British Raj India, where the indigenous peoples would be the magic characters of the play, and the “Greecians” would be the British (with Hippolyta being an Indian arranged marriage). The possibilities are mind-blowing.
As much as I enjoyed doing the Time presentation, these were my favorite moments of the evening. Moderating the discussion was just a complete blast. I’m hoping to get audio of the panel to use in a future podcast, and I’ve talked to Arndt about the possibility of sitting in on some rehearsals, followed by an interview with each director as we near the opening of each play (Henry V in late June, Midsummer in mid-July).
This morning, I ventured back to the bash so that I could catch the panel discussion with two former Hamlets of the KSC, Brett Elliott (yes, the director of Midsummer) and Ty Mayberry (who is also going to be playing Henry this summer), as they discussed the role with author and actor Graham Barnard.
This was just incredible. I thought I did a pretty good job as a moderator, but, man, Barnard just rocked it.
I had a great time this weekend, and I think the others in the audience did, too.
Kudos to the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company for putting on a such a great event, and special thanks to Arndt, Elliott, and Jason Rennie for being such gracious hosts!