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Published January 18, 2011
Volume 19, Number 1


Theater Company Supports Summer Shakespeare Festival with Feb. 26 Workshop Fundraiser



Outdoor performances of Shakespeare's plays have long been welcome summer entertainment. Locally, the venue is the Concannon Vineyard in Livermore, where this year theater-goers can enjoy two very different works as part of the Shakespeare Festival put on by the company Shakespeare's Associates.

Opening June 30, the 2011 festival includes eight performances each of two plays, Shakespeare's “soul-searching” Macbeth and Ken Ludwig’s “hilarious” Lend Me A Tenor. While their creation is separated by almost four centuries, both explore a similar theme, the seductive power of ambition, one depicting its tragic and the other its comic consequences.

The festival’s idyllic setting, on the winery grounds in front of a Queen Anne-style Victorian originally built in downtown Livermore in 1895, adds a special dimension to the performances. It is the epitome of what Lisa Tromovitch, the company’s producing artistic director, believes theater should be, tying into the identity of its surroundings. “Theater should be integrated into the community,” she remarks, pointing out the way the location links Livermore’s historic buildings, vineyards, and beautiful topography.

Tromovitch also stresses the company’s local roots as a Tri-Valley organization. “We are a locally governed, professional theater company. Our board of directors come from Pleasanton, Livermore, and Dublin, and citizens here get to participate”—unlike touring companies, which have their own leadership, actors, and staff.

Before the players take the stage this summer, they will be offering aficionados a privileged look inside the rehearsal room at the company's annual Winter Fundraiser and Workshop on February 26 at Livermore's Bothwell Arts Center. Aiming to break out of the standard wine/food/auction mold, the troupe will entertain guests in a series of workshops that reveal what it takes to mount such productions—from the study of Shakespeare's original texts to training in combat techniques.

“Everyone wants to know what it’s like to be an actor,” comments Tromovitch, who is directing this summer's production of Macbeth. “We wanted to show them how we do what we do.”

In one workshop, patrons sit down with the director to see what Shakespeare's text was like in the 1600s and discuss how she and the actors develop their interpretation. Noting that the company gets a lot of feedback about how approachable and understandable its productions are, she points out that the language is even clearer with the original punctuation and spelling.

“This is a truly insider’s look for intelligent theater-going adults who have always wondered what actors do in rehearsal,” Tromovitch continues. “The price is very reasonable. The workshops are led by professionals volunteering their time. People are just fascinated, saying things like, ‘I had no idea this is how you guys figured it out.’”

On tap for this spring is the company’s production of A Life in the Theatre by Pulitzer Prize Winner David Mamet. In contrast to the outdoor festival, this venue is the 60-seat West End Theater of Livermore’s Bothwell Arts Center. Explaining the play’s relationship to Shakespeare, Tromovitch observes that “scripts chosen for this series are noted for their literary merit, usually
national and international award winners.”

For fundraiser tickets and performance dates, visit www.livermoreshakes.org or call (925) 443-BARD.

 

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