Meet our Earl of Kent: Aldo Billingslea

During the run of King Lear (Sep. 16–Oct. 11) we will be posting interviews with the cast to help our audiences get to know the men and women behind some of Shakespeare’s most tragic characters. What was the first role they ever played? What is their pre-show ritual? To find out, keep reading! 

Aldo Billingslea as the Earl of Kent in King Lear. Photo by Jay Yamada.

Aldo Billingslea as the Earl of Kent in King Lear. Photo by Jay Yamada.

“Aldo Billingslea brings down the house with a tour de force delivery of old Kent’s cavalcade of insults,” wrote Robert Hurwitt in his San Francisco Chronicle review of King Lear. Before Billingslea brought down the Bruns as the Earl of Kent, Lear’s closest advisor who epically hands Goneril’s servant his behind, he entertained Cal Shakes’ audiences in a wide-range of roles including, Sweet Back and Joe in 2012’s Spunk, and Polixenes and the Bear in The Winter’s Tale and Lord Windermere in Lady Windermere’s Fan during our 2013 season. Offstage he is a Professor of Theatre Arts at Santa Clara University where he teaches acting, directs plays, and is Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion. Plus it appears he knows a thing or two about raising chickens…

Where are you from?

Born in San Bernadino; lived in Istanbul, Michigan, and got to Fort Worth, Texas by second grade.

What do you think your King Lear character’s best quality is? Worst?

Best: Loyalty

Worst: Lack of impulse control!

Favorite line in King Lear:

Calling someone an S.O.B.!

First experience at a play, or musical:

Third grade watching Hansel and Gretel as opera

First acting gig:

Pierre and the Lion in Carole King’s Really Rosie

Favorite role you’ve ever played:

Joseph Merrick in The Elephant Man

Favorite Shakespeare play:

Othello

Do you have pets? If so, what are they?

Beckwourth the 16 ½-year-old Lab/Chow mix; Ramon the turtle; Benjamin the cat; Rose, Daisy, Tulip, Buttercup, and Chrysanthemum the chickens.

What shows/movies/books/art have you seen/read lately that have really spoken to you?

The New Jim Crow [Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander]

What is your pre-show ritual?

Driving

What is your line memorization technique?

I read the other actor’s part. A lot.

The one performance you’ve seen that you’ll never forget:

Mark Rucker’s The Taming of the Shrew at South Coast Rep with Marco Barricelli.  Perfect, witty, sexy, Rat Pack, and everything rooted in the text.  I saw it three times and PAID TWICE!

King Lear runs through October 11. For tickets click here.

Share
Posted in 2015 Season, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet our Cordelia (who also plays the Fool): Kjerstine Rose Anderson

During the run of King Lear (Sep. 16–Oct. 11) we will be posting interviews with the cast to help our audiences get to know the men and women behind some of Shakespeare’s most tragic characters. What was the first role they ever played? What is their pre-show ritual? To find out, keep reading! 

Kjerstine Rose Anderson as the Fool in King Lear. Photo by Kevin Berne.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival-regular Kjerstine Rose Anderson begins our production of King Lear with a hauntingly beautiful rendition of “The rain it raineth every day” from Twelfth Night. This sentiment carries through her revelatory performance as both Lear’s youngest (and favorite) daughter Cordelia, and the lovingly pesky—imaginary?—Fool. In his Theater Dogs review Chad Jones wrote, “Anderson is terrific in both roles, crackling good chemistry with the marvelous Anthony Heald as Lear.” She makes her Cal Shakes debut in King Lear. With a performance like this, we hope she’ll be back every season!

Where are you from?

Seattle, Washington

What do you think your King Lear character’s best quality is? Worst?

Generosity. Pride.

Favorite line in King Lear:

“Sa, sa, sa, sa!”

First experience at a play, or musical:

I played Yum-Yum in The Mikado in seventh grade.

First acting gig:

An adaptation of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier at Book-It Rep in Seattle.

Favorite role you’ve ever played:

Elinor in Sense & Sensibility

Favorite Shakespeare play:

Much Ado About Nothing (Ed. Note: Much Ado just happens to be our 2016 Season opener!)

Do you have any pets? If so, what are they?

Jupiter the cat

What shows/movies/books/art have you seen/read lately that have really spoken to you?

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

What is your pre-show ritual?

Coffee.

What is your line memorization technique?

Figure out what I mean…

The one performance you’ve seen that you’ll never forget:

Hamilton at the Public. BEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN—EVERYONE SHOULD SEE IT. [Ed. note: Hamilton is currently playing on Broadway.]

King Lear runs through October 11. For tickets click here.

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ask Philippa! Lear Stories Edition

 

Resident Dramaturg Philippa Kelly

Resident Dramaturg Philippa Kelly. Photo courtesy Philippa Kelly.

King Lear is about an elderly king who makes a fatal, capricious decision that wreaks havoc on his country. But it is his family that is the focus of this play—his blood relatives and their husbands and servants, as well as the “family” of loyal servants who try to comfort him in his bewilderment, suffering and rage. They remind Lear of who he was and is (“your Majesty”). But the true meaning of their love goes deeper than titles and entitlements—they are willing to suffer with him, to give themselves over to the service of love.

We are all in some sense servants when we love: the king has never known this, but he comes to discover what love can mean. The place where we first learn about love—and about how to misunderstand or abuse it—is in our families, those places of intense, chaotic, misdirected feeling.

In The King and I I wrote my own personal account of family love, which sought to illuminate, via King Lear, how I saw my own family within the larger networks of Australian society. I looked to King Lear to tell me more about my family, and I looked to my family and my society to afford a deeper and richer understanding of King Lear.

King Lear invites us to think of our families within a frame bigger than ourselves; deeper than ourselves; more varied than our own personal experience.

Kjerstine Rose Anderson as Cordelia and Anthony Heald as Lear in Cal Shakes' production of King Lear. Photo by Kevin Berne.

Loss, abandonment, entitlement, authority—these issues are all fundamental to King Lear, and, 400 years later, this play still resonates deeply within families all over the world. We all come from some kind of “family”—some two people generated us, and they had their own lines of descent. We may experience our families as absent, loving, broken, supportive, ungrateful, or even, as Lear does, destructive—but all of these experiences constitute some kind of family connection.  I don’t pretend to have the answers to complex family dynamics (although, being a Lear scholar, I have many thoughts about them). But if you have a response to King Lear that evokes your own family relationships, here are four things you can do:

 

  1. Show up at the Bruns on the evening of September 24th (6-7pm) or 25th (6:30-7:30pm), or at the Champion donor event on October 10th. At any of these three events (or at all—our stories often shift as we tell them) you can record your family story with Cal Shakes’ Rebecca Novick and her Triangle Lab team. The Cal Shakes Triangle Lab is partnering with communities to make a moving document of “Lear family stories,” of which your story can be a vital part.
  2. Email your thoughts to Rebecca (rnovick@calshakes.org) if they feel, as a whole, too personal to be shared in public circulation. There will be an opportunity to work out with Rebecca and her team whether you feel that any part of your story is suitable for the community art-making project in written form. You are the artist; Cal Shakes is your artistic collaborator.
  3. Blog your thoughts here on Ask Philippa! to be shared on this forum.
  4. Avail yourself of the email address available below, in which case I will receive your story directly and will treat your thoughts as personal. I’ll be delighted simply to read and respond.
Learn more from Rebecca and her team and sign up for or the project here.

Dr. Philippa Kelly, Resident Dramaturg for the California Shakespeare Theater, is also a professor and author. Her 2010 book, The King and I, a meditation on Australian culture through the lens of King Lear, garnered international praise in its very personal examination of themes of abandonment, loss, and humor).

You can email Philippa at pkelly@calshakes.org, or post below to ask her a question or tell your family story.

Buy tickets for King Lear here; or, call the Box Office at 510.548.9666.

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Announcing our 2016 Season!

James Earl Jones and Mary Alice in the 1985 world premiere of Fences at Yale Rep.

2016 at Cal Shakes will be filled with sharp wit, “will they or won’t they” couples, tragic heroes, Pulitzer Prize-winning writers, New York Times-heralded directors, and plenty of excitement, with our new Artistic Director, Eric Ting, starting this fall. Ting will choose the fourth show—a Shakespeare play as is our tradition—which will be announced later this year. Below are the first three titles of our 2016 Season, selected by our former artistic director Jonathan Moscone. To ensure premium seating, big savings, and flexible dates, subscribe or renew your subscription here. Single tickets will be available this spring. Until then, check out our production of King Lear, which runs through October 11th.

Much Ado About Nothing

By William Shakespeare/ Directed by Jackson Gay / May 25–June 19

She’s a witty, independent woman and he’s a pompous, misogynistic man, making Beatrice and Benedick a match made in entertainment heaven. This dynamic duo at the center of Shakespeare’s sharpest comedy about the thin line between love and hate, has become the archetype for “will they or won’t they” couples. Jackson Gay, who has been named one of the “power players of off-Broadway,” by the New York Times, directs.

Fences

By August Wilson/ Directed by Raelle Myrick-Hodges/ July 6–July 31

This powerful drama about a middle-class family’s disillusion with the American dream marks two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner August Wilson’s Cal Shakes’ debut. Set in the 1950s, Troy Maxson is a charismatic former baseball player-turned-sanitation worker. With his solid paycheck and lessons in tough love, he is the de facto captain of his own house, but when an affair is exposed and his son lashes out, this tragic hero fights to keep his family together and his strong beliefs intact.

You Never Can Tell

By George Bernard Shaw /Directed by Lisa Peterson/August 10–September 4

Let the battle of the sexes begin, in George Bernard Shaw’s sharply witty take on marriage and the modern woman. Mrs. Clandon, a famed feminist author and lecturer, fled, with her three children, to the island of Madeira to escape her unhappy marriage. When they return to England 18 years later, she is accidentally reunited with her husband at a seaside resort, while her daughter, raised in her mother’s mirror image, fights against falling in love with a devoted dentist. What will happen? As a wise waiter continuously, and hilariously, observes, “You never can tell.”

Fourth Show, TBD

By William Shakespeare/September 14–October 9

The final play of the Main Stage season—written by Shakespeare as is our Cal Shakes’ tradition—will be announced by Artistic Director Designate Eric Ting at a later date.

Renew your subscription online now or call the Box Office at 510.548.9666, and you’ll receive a complimentary box of gourmet cookies from Holly Baking Company, which will be available for you to pickup at the Welcome Center when you visit the Bruns for your scheduled performance of King Lear. The Welcome Center will also have forms ready to fill out if you’d rather renew or subscribe in person.

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Meet our King Lear: Anthony Heald

 

Anthony Heald as King Lear. Photo by Kevin Berne.

During the run of King Lear (Sep. 16–Oct. 11) we will be posting interviews with the cast to help our audiences get to know the men and women behind some of Shakespeare’s most tragic characters. What was the first role they ever played? What is their pre-show ritual? To find out, keep reading! 

First up is Anthony Heald, who plays King Lear. He is a two-time Tony nominee who has spent the past year playing the double role of Ross and Bishop How in the record-breaking Broadway and West End runs of The Elephant Man. The long-time Oregon Shakespeare Festival company member is also known for playing Hannibal Lecter’s arch-nemesis Dr. Frederick Chilton in The Silence of the Lambs and the Vice Principal Scott Guber in Boston Public. Heald makes his Cal Shakes debut in King Lear.

Where are you from?

Born and raised in the New York City area—Long Island (Massapequa).

What do you think your King Lear character’s best quality is? Worst?

Lear’s best quality, which is in slim supply as the play starts, but builds as the story unfolds, is the care he takes with those around him. Lear’s worst quality is his narcissism and his hot temper—his expectation that he deserves special treatment, and his sudden rages when he’s frustrated.

Favorite line in King Lear:

It’s so difficult to choose in a play so verbally rich and full of ideas. It would probably be, “Take physic, pomp, Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel, That thou mayst shake the superflux to them And show the heavens more just.”

First experience at a play, or musical:

The first play I remember seeing—I was probably eight or so—was You Can’t Take It With You. My mother and father were playing parts in our community theater’s first real production, after several years of play readings.

First acting gig:

My first professional acting job came the summer I turned 19 (1963), when I worked at the Houghton Lake Playhouse in Michigan. I used my first name (Phil) in the Children’s Theater programs, but when I got my first main stage show, I decided to use my middle name, Anthony. Weeks later an audience member praised my performance and said, with great sympathy, “I saw your brother Phil in the kiddy show—he’s nowhere near as good as you are!”

Favorite role you’ve ever played:

Lear is a very, very special role—one I’ve been dreaming of and preparing for over the years. Before that, Iago? Shylock? Tartuffe?

Favorite Shakespeare play:

I think A Midsummer Night’s Dream is practically a perfect play—which, of course, makes it terribly difficult to mount successfully. I also love Measure for Measure.

Do you have any pets? If so, what are they?

We have far too many pets in our home. My wife and I have three dogs, and our daughter has one. She also has three cats, and three horses, but they don’t live at home.

What shows/movies/books/art have you seen/read lately that have really spoken to you?

I confess to having been sort of locked in Lear land for the last year or so. I get enormous pleasure and satisfaction out of doing my research.

What is your pre-show ritual?

I try to always to get there at least an hour to an hour-and-a-­half before curtain. I check that my stage properties are where they need to be, I take a nice, slow, relaxed time with my makeup, and getting into my clothes. I try to do a 15-minute vocal/physical warm-­up. I try to speak with everyone in the cast.

What is your line memorization technique?

Long, hard work. Daily sessions with frequent drills. I need to know all my lines down cold before I even begin rehearsals. I don’t ever want to waste any valuable time, energy, and focus during rehearsals (and performances) feeling anxious over not being certain what I have been given to say.

The one performance you’ve seen that you’ll never forget:

Angela Lansbury in Sweeney Todd.

To read more about Heald’s experience preparing to play King Lear at Cal Shakes, pick up a program at a performance of King Lear which runs through October 11. For tickets click here.

 

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Coming Next: King Lear starring Anthony Heald

Anthony Heald as Shylock in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2010 production of The Merchant of Venice. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Capes are being fitted, swords ordered, and “blood meetings” are taking place. That can only mean one thing: Rehearsals for King Lear,  directed by Amanda Dehnert—the creative force behind our 2011 production of The Verona Projectare in full swing.

Making his Cal Shakes debut as King Lear will be Anthony Heald. He has appeared in hit films and TV shows like The Silence of the Lambs, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Boston Public, as well as on Broadway, where he has been nominated for two Tony Awards and was most recently seen alongside Bradley Cooper in a record-breaking revival of The Elephant Man. But as the long-time Oregon Shakespeare Festival company member said in a recent interview with Cal Shakes, he feels most at home when performing in a Shakespeare play at an organization like Cal Shakes or OSF. “I’ve done seven Broadway productions and it’s wonderful in terms of the exposure,” said Heald, “but the actual experience of performing on Broadway, for my money, doesn’t compare with performing on the stage of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival—and I’m certain the experience of performing at the California Shakespeare Theater.”

Joining Heald on the Bruns stage will be Arwen Anderson, El Beh, and Kjerstine Rose Anderson as his three daughters, Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia, respectively. Aldo Billingslea, last seen at Cal Shakes in the 2013 productions of Lady Windermere’s Fan and A Winter’s Tale will play the Earl of Kent, and audiences may remember Charles Shaw Robinson, who recently appeared alongside El Beh in SF Playhouse’s Stupid F**cking Bird, from Cal Shakes’ 2010 world premiere of John Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven by Octavio Solis. He will play the Earl of Gloucester. Dan Clegg (Romeo in 2013’s Romeo and Juliet), and Rafael Jordan (our upcoming tour of The Tempest) will play Gloucester’s sons, Edmund and Edgar.

To read our full interview with Heald pick up a program at a performance of King Lear, which begins previews on September 16th and runs through October 11th. For tickets click here.

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Listen to an Original Song from our Upcoming Tour of The Tempest

 

A student at Laney College works on writing an original song for The Tempest.

Building on the success of last year’s All the Bay’s a stage tour of Twelfth Night, we’re increasing the impact of this year’s tour of The Tempest, even further, by inviting community partners to collaborate. Over the summer, students from the jazz and theater programs at Oakland’s Laney College worked with tour director Rebecca Novick and composer Olive Mitra to write music and lyrics for an original song that will be performed during our production of The Tempest.

Here is a sample of the song, which has a working title of “Untamed and True,” performed a cappella. Enjoy!

Untamed and True Laney Cal Shakes Collaboration

Cal Shakes’ All the Bay’s a Stage program is funded by donations from community members like you. Seats for the public performances of The Tempest at OMCA, which will take place on Fridays at 7pm and Saturdays and Sundays at 4pm from November 13-22, are extremely limited. Beginning September 1st, donors of $250 or more to this project can reserve two complimentary seats to one of the OMCA performances (while supplies last). To make a donation and reserve your seat for the Cal Shakes tour of The Tempest, click here or contact our Director of Development, Megan Barton at mbarton@calshakes.org.

 

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Artist-Investigator Elizabeth Gjelten on Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing

As part of our ongoing series about the Triangle Lab Artist-Investigator program, we have asked our AI’s to write about their projects. Here, our Artist-Investigator Elizabeth Gjelten gives a look inside her work with the Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing (D.I.S.H.) organization.

Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing (D.I.S.H.) provides high-quality, permanent housing to formerly homeless San Franciscans who suffer from serious health issues. Elizabeth Gjelten, a writer/arts educator, is working with D.I.S.H. to develop activities that will create more opportunities for beauty and creativity in the lives of residents. 

By Elizabeth Gjelten

Photographs by Audra Miller

For people who get into housing after living on the streets, it’s a huge relief to have a door they can close—to lock out the chaos and danger. But that door also presents its own danger: isolation. This is the main thing I heard over months of listening to tenants, caseworkers, and managers at D.I.S.H. (Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing), which provides supportive housing for people who were homeless and had serious health issues. After years on the streets, most lack the most basic tools needed to live side-by-side with neighbors and follow rules. They’ve often lost whatever semblance of community they may have had outside (folks who watched each other’s back or used together), and when they’re working on sobriety, it can be risky to spend time outside in the Tenderloin. Sometimes it feels easier to stay in their rooms and watch TV. This is D.I.S.H.’s challenge: not only to maintain safe, decent housing and give tenants the support they need to stay there, but also to help them rebuild their lives and build community.

Sometimes the first step in rebuilding your life is to value it. A beautiful, professional portrait can be a powerful tool to say to yourself and to anyone else who looks at it: This is who I am, what I’m worth. When I learned that a D.I.S.H. intern, Audra Miller, is a skilled photographer, it seemed obvious: Why not create a portrait gallery of willing tenants at the D.I.S.H. hotels? And why not strengthen the message of these photographs with the tenants’ own words? With the help of some list-making and other writing exercises, the tenants reveal what home means to them.

Aja

“Home is being part of a community that helps and lets me be me.” — Aja

 

Luis

 “I am at home when I am with my tools.” — Luis

For Luis, home means having a place where he can keep his tools safe and pursue his passion for woodworking.

 

Kolinio

“I feel at home when anybody says hello and smiles at me …” — Kolinio

 Home may mean the daily specifics of community, the celebrations, and greetings.

 

Patricia

“Home is a place where I feel uplifted.” — Patricia

 Or it may simply be the positive feelings of community. When I heard Patricia died a few weeks ago, I was saddened—but heartened to know that the picture of her words and hands (she was too shy to show her face) will be part of her legacy at her last home.

As we wrap up the portrait-and-writing sessions, we’ll frame the photos in groups, to go in the hotels’ community rooms, where they’ll be a beautiful conversation piece, a powerful record of tenants’ lives, a testament to what it takes to build community, and an excuse for a party! Also, D.I.S.H. administrators are already talking about how they can use these photos to convey their work and mission to the larger community.

 

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I AM NOT WHAT I AM: Dressing in drag turns gender roles upside down in the theater— and beyond.

This article appears in the program for The Mystery of Irma Vep.

Danny Scheie as Lady Enid in The Mystery of Irma Vep. Photo by Kevin Berne.

 

By Keith Spencer

Most of us have, at some point in our lives, tried on clothes of the opposite gender. For many of us it happens in a childhood theater experience, dressing for a role. For others it happens in normal childhood play, as it did with me; one day, after kindergarten, when a girl and I swapped clothes in the playroom for curiosity’s sake. After observing myself clad in an ill-fitting, flower-pattern dress, in her mother’s full-length mirror, I felt a strange taboo sensation wash over me, as if I had been caught with my hand in the cookie jar. For actors of any level, theater offers the opportunity to play as someone other than ourselves: for a brief staged moment, we get to experience what it might feel like to be the Prince of Denmark, or a poor flower girl, or, as in The Mystery of Irma Vep, several different characters ranging from a nobleman to an Egyptian princess. For many actors this is a lesson in empathy, in that we learn to relate with people radically different than ourselves by stepping into their skin. Yet sometimes, actors discover that they’re more comfortable in who they become on stage, than who they are off.

Long before the modern struggle for LGBTQ civil rights, theater offered an escape, a means of performing as the person many actors felt, deep down, that they were. Only in the 20th century did intellectuals start to think of gender itself as a taught performance. In the 1980s, Berkeley professor Judith Butler developed a theory of gender performativity, theorizing that both sex and gender were an edifice, constructed by culture. Masculinity and femininity, and their associated behaviors and symbols, were not inherent traits; rather, they were inventions of culture, and learned ones at that. Hence the strange uncomfortable feeling I experienced when trying on a dress at age five: I was performing outside of the gender I’d been told I was. This idea of life as a performance, akin to acting, is not new: As Jaques mused in As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.” On the Elizabethan stage of Shakespeare’s era, women were not allowed to be actors—meaning the first performances of Shakespeare’s plays in England featured all-male casts. Imagine the multiple layers of meaning in, say, Twelfth Night, where a woman (Viola), played by a male actor, pretends to be a man, Cesario, in the context of the story. One can see how a queer actor—struggling with conflicting identities that were not acceptable in Elizabethan society— might find respite in such a role.

Recently, the headlines have been full of stories surrounding the idea of gender as an artifice, not an inborn trait, with different sexualities being even more accepted in progressive communities like the Bay Area. This has led to major progress in civil rights, such as this summer’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide. However, before identities like gay, transgender, gender fluid, and gender variance were well on their way to becoming socially accepted, drag performance was used—and still is—as a means of questioning gender and sexuality conventions, and satirizing the rigidity of gender roles. Why is it exactly that we find drag so funny? Perhaps it’s because the way we are taught to perform and adhere to gender roles is so uncompromising that it can be a relief to recognize it as a farce, a constructed world at which we can play. Or maybe it’s because deep down we know the whole premise of gender is absurd. Charles Ludlam, playwright of The Mystery of Irma Vep and a gay man himself, certainly saw the potential of theater to enact alternative identities. Supposedly, one of his college professors told him he was “too effeminate” to make it as an actor. He did so anyway, and shortly after college began a career as a playwright, director, and actor, founding the Ridiculous Theatrical Company in the West Village. Ludlam’s 1984 play The Mystery of Irma Vep—which requires two male actors to play eight characters, both male and female—went on to become his best-known and most-produced. While previous plays of Ludlam’s were well-known within the gay theater scene, Irma Vep was unequivocally a mainstream success. Though privately ambivalent, Ludlam himself seemed pleased at the success of Irma Vep, and the success of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company. He once explained his theatrical style as such: “I think the distinction between gay theater and what I do, which some people call ‘queer theater,’ is that gay theater is really a political movement to show that gay people can be admirable, responsible members of the community… I don’t do that.”

Reading between the lines, Ludlam’s point seems to be not that he is apolitical, but that he depicts queer identities in a way that normalizes them. Playing off queer themes for laughs rather than politics attests to the way that queer art was on its way to becoming more conventional, even in the 1980s. If then the theater doors were wedged open just far enough for Ludlam’s queer theater to become mainstream, it is telling how much we’ve progressed since. Queer characters of all stripes grace television and movie screens, so much so that seeing a gay or trans character on the screen no longer causes a to-do. Ludlam, no doubt, would approve.

 

Keith Spencer is a freelance writer and graduate student, currently pursuing a PhD in Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Formerly publications manager for Cal Shakes, he has written about gender, class, and sexuality for Jacobin, Dissent, and PopFront. He will be giving four pre-show Grove Talks in mid-August prior to The Mystery of Irma Vep, where he will talk more about gender performativity and comedy.

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Introducing our New Artistic Director Eric Ting

It is with great excitement that we announce our new Artistic Director Eric Ting. He comes to Cal Shakes after spending 11 years with the Long Wharf Theatre, eight of which were as the company’s Associate Artistic Director.  He is also an Obie Award-winning director who has been called “a magician” by The New Yorker magazine and “perhaps one of the most gifted young directors in our midst” by the Hartford Courant.

The announcement, by Cal Shakes Board President Jean Simpson, Managing Director Susie Falk, and Search Committee Chair Kate Stechschulte, caps an extensive seven-month nationwide search. Ting will serve as the fifth artistic director in the company’s history, succeeding outgoing Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone, who completed his 16-year tenure with the opening of The Mystery of Irma Vep.

“I am profoundly honored to join this remarkable organization whose mission and programming both on and off its stage so thoroughly embody what I believe a theater can and must be today,” says Ting. “I’m inspired by the fearless scope of vision of my predecessor, Jonathan Moscone; and humbled by the collective commitment, faith, and trust given me by Jean, Kate, and the entire Cal Shakes Board. I can’t imagine a more passionate and devoted partner than Susie Falk; nor a more dynamic community of staff, artists, and audience to call my home; nor a more splendid cultural and civic landscape than the Bay Area; and that stage, that glorious backdrop, those hills, that sky, the stars! I’m eager to see what the future holds for Cal Shakes, and so very excited to be a part of it.”

Ting will make periodic visits to Cal Shakes between now and November 1, 2015, when he assumes his official duties as our Artistic Director. His wife Meiyin Wang—currently Co-Director of the Under the Radar Festival and the Devised Theater Initiative at the Public Theater as well as Curator of the Park Avenue Armory Artist-In-Residence program in New York City—and their new daughter, Frankie, will make their move from Brooklyn to the Bay Area in early 2016.

Read the press release, which includes Ting’s full bio here.

 

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment