Okay. Despite my hatred of summer, there are quite a few things that I enjoy about it; one of them being Shakespeare By the Sea! The past two Friday nights I've gone to Point Fermin Park in my hometown of San Pedro to catch the opening weekends of their selections this year, Taming of the Shrew and Macbeth.
The Los Angeles version of Shakespeare in the Park is always an event, and this year is no exception. I'm always struck by the simplicity of the sets, and how with just few flats and amazing acting the company is able to transport you to a completely different world; Italy in Taming of the Shrew and the Scottish moors in Macbeth. The acting is phenomenal. I have to give particular kudos to Morgan Hill, who plays Kate and Witch #1, Bryson Jones Allman (Petrucchio and Macduff), and Olivia Schlueter-Corey who bends gender in her turns as both Banquo and Tranio. All three are impossible to take your eyes off of. Morgan and Bryson are perfection playing off of each other as Kate and Petrucchio. Morgan really shines as a witch, though. She's both creepy and captivating. I felt like I was taking a master class just watching her. Bryson's grief as Macduff? I cried. I cry at everything, BUT STILL. I had chills, and not just because the temperature had dropped down to the 50s out by the ocean bluffs of Point Fermin. And Olivio as Tranio? I totally forgot Tranio is originally a man in Taming of the Shrew. She sells it. As someone who once gender bent and played Bottom, I'm all about women taking traditionally male roles in Shakespeare (even though all roles were traditionally male, but whatever).
If you're unfamiliar with the stories, don't be worried. Even though I'm a Shakespeare buff (I majored in theater and took at least 4 classes on the bard), the Shakespeare by the Sea performances are acted in such a way that anyone can follow along; there were even kids at the performances I went to who were enjoying them. Jordan notes on both plots: Taming by the Shrew is about a girl like me who can't get married and by extension her younger sister can't until she meets her match. Watch 10 Things I Hate About You, it's the same story. Macbeth? His wife convinces him to do a really grimy thing, then that have to do more grimy stuff to cover up the first grimy thing.
Check out where SbtS will be this summer! I promise it's worth it. Just remember to pack a picnic and bundle up; these summer nights in LA get pretty cool by the water.
Until next time.