The work we do on our Main Stage in Orinda is just one facet of our programming: our Artistic Learning and Artistic Engagement programs also bring theater to local students, educators, and community members outside of the Bruns.
We received the following letter, quoted below, last month—in the final weeks of our most thought-provoking and passionately debated show in recent memory. As we embark on Othello‘s community tour, we reflect on last year’s community tour of The Tempest. We are reminded of our audiences everywhere, and our mission to bring classics into the 21st century that engage with the contemporary moment and help us learn about ourselves and each other.
There are two public Othello community tour dates for this year:
Friday, October 28 at 6:30pm
Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California
1433 Madison Street
Oakland, CA 94612
Saturday, October 29 at 3:00pm
Rainbow Community Center at
Olympic Continuation High School
2730 Salvio Street
Concord, CA 94519
Register for these events for FREE at the links above.
Everyone is welcome.
September 24, 2016
Dearest friends at California Shakespeare Company:
You may not receive much correspondence from your local federal prison, but this one is long overdue. Appoximately 11 months ago an extremely talented group of actors, musicians, stage hands and even the director of your production of The Tempest performed for about 100 female inmates on our basketball court at FCI Dublin. My best friend and I were members of the audience and we were enthralled. We had the pleasure to meet you after the show and express our gratitude.
I loved the voice of the beautiful songbird who played Ariel. I am a singer as well and I was mesmerized. True to her character, she enchanted us.
My best friend “D” has been incarcerated for 23 1/2 years. She received a sentence of 3 life sentences for her 1st offense —a NON-VIOLENT drug charge. She had been married to a drug dealer and was considered part of his conspiracy.
There was a beautiful young African American ballerina who played the daughter of Prospero. From the moment she took the stage, D couldn’t take her eyes off her. She favors D’s daughter quite a bit. At one point this fine actor laid down at D’s feet and slept. D cried and said “I’ve never seen my daughter sleep.”
Finally, the actress who played Prospero was humble and strong. Not a single cast member made us feel judged or less than, and her final monologue was sent through time, from Shakespeare by her…to us.
“As you from crimes would pardon’d be, let your indulgence set me free.”
She looked D and me in the eyes and reminded us that we matter and that we are still part of the world. I think about that actress often. I hope she continues to change lives with her amazing gift. I know she changed mine.
D and I have reminisced fondly since your performance. We joke, “we escaped that night.” We wanted to express this to you, but we never did. We didn’t think our words would do those feelings justice. But then, in a surprising “plot twist” of our own, President Obama granted D clemency a few weeks ago and she has been returned to her momma nearly 24 years later.
In December, I will be relocated to a half-way house, as my 5 1/2 year sentence is also almost over. I am also here for a non violent, 1st time drug offense, but I am white. I invite you to draw your own conclusions.
Since your performance we have celebrated with you every opening night and award listed in our local newspaper. You deserve all and more than the accolades you receive. Thank you for bringing this incredible production to us and for creating for us a magical and beautiful…freedom.
K and D