Ask Philippa: Off-Season Edition

Philippa Kelly at Blithe Spirit Scoop 2012 by Jay Yamada

Philippa Kelly at the Inside Scoop for BLITHE SPIRIT, July 2012; photo by Jay Yamada.

Philippa Kelly, resident dramaturg for Cal Shakes, invites your questions about our 2013 season, which begins May 29. Subscriptions and FlexPasses on sale now.

Just because the Main Stage season closes, it doesn’t mean we at Cal Shakes are suddenly turned to marble, like Hermione in the fourth play of our 2013 season, A Winter’s Tale. Ask any questions you like and you’ll get an answer promptly. Are you reading the 2013 plays between seasons? Curious as to what we’re planning? Or do you have questions about Shakespeare—what is known about his life and writing process? Ask in the comments and I’ll be sure to respond.

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2 Responses to Ask Philippa: Off-Season Edition

  1. Bernard Jones says:

    How does Cal-Shakes determine what plays they will be doing each season? I would imagine a lot depends on what directors they can get and then they determine the plays they want to direct–is this not the case? At the same time, do staff members ever have a say in the process? Do you ever consider recommendations from audience members? Some years ago I recommended John M. Synge’s great Irish play “The Playboy of the Western World” and even though the answer I got back was yes, it’s a wonderful play and might indeed be great for Cal Shakes to do, it has yet to appear there, despite the fact that I’ve recommended the same play a few times since.

  2. philippa kelly says:

    Hello Bernard, you are back! Welcome – on Election Day!! Basically the Artistic Director has the final decision-making to do, although of course he takes a great deal of advice as the head of the company. During the previous year, Jon visits various theaters all over the country as and when his schedule permits, seeing new works, seeing new productions by artists he know or knows of, trying to gauge who may or may not be a good fit for our amphitheater and our audiences. He also has many applications from directors to consider – people who want to do shows at Cal Shakes. So amidst all of this mix, he has to try to sort out 1) who would be a good fit, 2) what productions will work for our space and our audience, 3) nightmare part – out of these, whose schedule can permit them to actually commit to a certain slot in the season. (My husband is a producer, and this – the actual scheduling – is the most nightmarish part of his whole workload, causing him to complain to the extent that I have, at the ready, a set of earmuffs.) So there is a huge amount that goes into the planning of a season, including, of course, the balance between Shakespeare and non-Shakespeare, and the strategic inclusion of challenging new works.

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