California Shakespeare Theater concludes its 2011 season with Shakespeare’s most biting romantic comedy, The Taming of the Shrew, playing at the Bruns Amphitheater September 21 through October 16.Shana Cooper, former Cal Shakes Associate Artistic Director whose production of Love’s Labor’s Lost is currently playing at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, directs.
In Shakespeare’s hard-edged comedy, no suitor can win lovely Bianca ’til her older sister, “Katherine the Curst,” is married off as well. Director Shana Cooper makes her Cal Shakes directing debut with a dynamically physical production that explores Shakespeare’s quintessential battle of the sexes through the lens of a commercially driven, high-fashion, pop-art society.
“I’m moved by the brave clarity Shakespeare brings to questions of love in Shrew,” says director Shana Cooper. “He captures the complications, costs, and–when we’re lucky–the sublime rewards of relationships between men and women. The explorations of love in Shrew feel intensely modern, for this is a world where you get to choose what role to have love play in your life. How much are you willing to compromise for that love? What do you gain through that compromise and how much of yourself might you lose?”
“I’m so proud and honored to have Shana directing here,” says Cal Shakes Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone. “She’s one of our country’s most daring and innovative young theater artists, and I am so happy she will be coming back to her artistic home, where she began in 2000 as the assistant director on the first production of my tenure, which was, coincidentally, The Taming of the Shrew.”
Making their Cal Shakes’ debuts are Slate Holmgren (film and television: Everwood, Dragon Hunter, Shadowhawk on Sacred Ground; stage: Twelfth Night at the Public Theatre; Passion Play, The Master Builder at Yale Rep ) as Petruchio and Erica Sullivan (film and television: There Will Be Blood, A Coat of Snow, Crossing Jordan;stage: A Woman of No Importance at Yale Rep, Sylvia at Long Wharf) as Katherine. Others in the cast include Cal Shakes Associate Artists Danny Scheie (Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night’s Dream) as Gremio and Tailor, Dan Hiatt (Uncle Vanya, Nicholas Nickleby) as Grumio and Vincentio, and Joan Mankin (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Uncle Vanya) as Pedant and the Widow. Also appearing are Alexandra Henrickson (Proserpine in Candida) as Bianca, Dan Clegg (The Verona Project) as Tranio, Rod Gnapp (The Pastures of Heaven) as Baptista, Nicholas Pelczar (Titus Andronicus, Macbeth) as Lucentio, Liam Vincent (Candida, Titus Andronicus, Twelfth Night) as Hortensio, and Theo Black (Hamlet at Pacific Rep, ) as Biondello.
The design team includes: Scott Dougan (set design), who has designed sets for productions at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Yale Rep, and whose 1800-square-foot art installation at the Urban Farm at the Battery in Battery Park, New York will be on display through 2013; Katherine O’Neill (costume design), founding member of New House Theatre, and costume designer for Romeo and Juliet and Ghost Sonata (Yale Rep), and The Whale Play (NTH); York Kennedy (lighting design), who created the lighting for Cal Shakes’ Candida, The Pastures of Heaven, and Uncle Vanya, among others, and whose work has been seen across the country from A.C.T. to Yale Rep; and Cal Shakes Associate Artist Jake Rodriguez (sound design) whose soundscapes have appeared in numerous Bay Area productions, and who designed the sound for Cal Shakes’ production of Nicholas Nickleby. Others on the artistic staff of Candida are Erika Chong Shuch (movement),Dave Maier (fight director), Philippa Kelly (dramaturg), Cal Shakes Associate ArtistNancy Carlin (vocal/text coach), Corrie Bennett (stage manager), and Laxmi Kumaran (stage manager).
Shana Cooper (director) is the recipient of a 2010 Princess Grace Award. Recent directing credits include Love’s Labor’s Lost at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Romeo and Juliet at Yale Repertory Theater, the Black Swan Lab, a new play workshop series at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Three Sisters (The Studio/New York), and A Lie of the Mind (American Conservatory Theater MFA program). Shana is a founding member of New Theater House, where directing credits include new work, The Whale Play by Victor I. Cazares, as well as classics, Twelfth Night (in collaboration with actors at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival). Other directing credits include Oklahoma! at the Hangar Theatre (associate director), The Ghost Sonata and Richard III at Yale School of Drama, and productions at Willamette Repertory Theatre, Sonoma Repertory Theatre, Cal Shakes Student Company, Washington Shakespeare Festival, Amherst College and Willamette University (Guest Artist), and Magic Theatre’s Young California Writer’s Project. Ms. Cooper was the Associate Artistic Director of the California Shakespeare Theater from 2000-2004, and cofounded New Theater House with Yale School of Drama Alumni in 2008. Awards include the Julian Milton Kaufman Memorial Prize in Directing (Yale School of Drama), Drama League Directing Fellow, TCG Observership Grant, Phil Killian Directing Fellow (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Jack O’Brien Directing Fellow, and G. Herbert Smith Presidential Scholarship. Ms. Cooper earned her MFA in directing from the Yale School of Drama.\
Single tickets for The Taming of the Shrew range from $35-$66, with discounts available for seniors, students, persons age 30 and under, and groups. Prices, dates, and artists subject to change. For information or to charge tickets by phone with VISA, MasterCard or American Express, call the Cal Shakes Box Office at 510.548.9666. Additional information and online ticketing are available at www.calshakes.org.