Extra! Extra! Tickets to See Shakespeare Gone Wicked and Wilde!

wicked05011010Why Shakespeare? Why read him in high school, and teach him in college, and perform him in the park? Why not Marlowe? Or Chekhov? Ibsen? Why not go back further, and read Euripides or Sophocles? Why Shakespeare?

Some would say it’s due to his undeniable talent as a playwright and illuminator of the  human soul. Others might simply attribute his omnipresence to the best marketing team in the history of the world. Me—in case you were wondering—I think it’s the elasticity inherent in his work. Pretty much anyone could read his best plays, and get anything they want out of them. Othello, for example, could easily be read as a neo-Nazi call to arms. And I won’t even get into The Merchant of Venice.

But seriously, Shakespeare is, if nothing else, adaptable—and on every level, from script to cast. This is why we see mix-gendered versions of Romeo and Juliet, and high school-set films of The Taming of the Shrew. And this seems to be the impetus behind actress, director, and producer Lisa Wolpe’s newest venture, The Wicked Wilde Shakespeare Festival. It’s a five-week long summer theatre extravaganza of adapted Shakespeare works (with one Oscar Wilde piece thrown into the mix), playing at the Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica from May 29th through June 7th.

Wolpe is the founder and artistic director of the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company, an outfit dedicated to reversing the tradition of the old Globe Theatre, and casting all women. For this festival, however, Wolpe has included the male persuasion in her own adapted and directed material, while still maintaining her playful sense of gender confusion that already runs deep in much of Shakespeare.

The fest opens with A Tyrant’s Tale, Wolpe’s abbreviated take on A Winter’s Tale, with only seven actors (the original Shakespeare version has seventeen characters and spans sixteen years). Much like Othello (but funnier), the play concerns a jealous leader—King Leontes—and the borderline paranoia he suffers over his wife’s possible infidelity. The part I’m looking forward to, though, is how Wolpe interprets one of the most famous stage directions in all of theatre: “Exit, pursued by a bear.”

Macbeth3, the next in the wicked, wilde lineup, is Wolpe’s highly acclaimed post-apocalyptic adaptation of Macbeth. This reworking incorporates a whiff of Hamlet into the mix as well, with the character of Satan visiting Macbeth, and leading him into his tragic torment. Why the number 3 added to the title? You’ll just have to find out.

The festival also includes a gender-bending variation of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, as well as the anthologized Lovers and Madmen, an all-female grab-bag of Shakespeare scenes. But for now, FineArtsLA is giving away a pair of tickets to just the first two shows: A Tyrant’s Tale and Macbeth3 for this Sunday, May 30th. The double-bill begins at 2 PM at Miles Memorial Playhouse.

If you’re a regular viewer of the site, you know the rules: simply enter your first name, last name, and e-mail address into the form below, and you will eligible to receive tickets to the first half of The Wicked Wilde Shakespeare Festival, and as an added bonus, you will be automatically entered into the running for our next three ticket giveaways (hint: The Importance of Being Earnest is on the list). Why Shakespeare? Why not? Especially if it’s free.

For more information about The Wicked Wilde Shakespeare Festival, or to find out how to buy the tickets on your own, please visit their site at www.lawsc.net.






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