Contact Jeff Norman @ 310.621.4659, email@example.com
Veterans Community Theater Launches With All-Female Production of Shakespeare Classic
Love, war and Shakespeare come to Long Beach in a new production of Much Ado About Nothing featuring an all-female cast. The Unlikely Shakespeare Company, HomeFront Rising and the Long Beach Arts Council are proud to present Shakespeare’s beloved comedy of young lovers returning from battle and the “war between the sexes” at home. Performances begin November 10th at The Collaborative, 421 W Broadway in downtown Long Beach.
Playwright and Marine veteran Melvin Ishmael Johnson is the Artistic Director of the Veterans Community Theater. In addition to developing creative works, he trains veterans to work as stage managers in the Los Angeles theater community, and coordinates internships with local companies. He will begin leading weekly workshops at The Collaborative on January 9th.
Director Anya Josephs says, “When Melvin and [HomeFront Rising founder] Jeff Norman approached me to collaborate on a Shakespeare production that was relevant to veterans’ issues, I immediately thought of Much Ado. Shakespeare wrote about war in dozens of his plays, but Much Ado is about more than fighting—it’s about what happens when you return home. I wanted a production that would showcase military themes, without giving in to stereotypes about what it means to be a military veteran. For audiences today, and perhaps especially for veterans, the promise of comedy is vitally important: that life may be dangerous, frightening, and finite, but there is always the promise of joy and hope.”
In addition to drawing out the military themes, this production features some unique production elements—like a talented all-female cast. The play is profoundly concerned with gender, with the control of women’s bodies and sexuality, in a way that is only emphasized by this casting choice. “There are two reasons I wanted an all-female cast,” Josephs explains. “First, for the actors. There are so many incredibly talented women who love the classics and yet get relegated to tiny bit parts that are mostly stereotypes. This production gives audiences the chance to see a really remarkable range of acting talent. Secondly, I wanted to emphasize the artificiality of the gender divides the play sets up. In Shakespeare’s day, female characters were played by boys. Why not have women play men in the modern day?”
The visually lush production transforms a gallery space into an intimate performance venue in the round, where audiences are brought up close to the play’s action. This unique collaboration brings Shakespeare’s classic to hilarious and heartbreaking new life.
HomeFront Rising is a nonprofit cultural revival led by civic-minded military veterans and their allies. In partnership with the Arts Council for Long Beach with funding provided by the California Arts Council, its mission is to develop the artistic abilities and creative expression of veterans, and to nurture relationships between veterans and the general public for the greater good. A blueprint is being formulated for nationwide deployment in 2018.
Much Ado About Nothing will be performed: 11/10, 11/11, 11/12, 11/17, 11/18, 11/19, 12/1, 12/2, 12/3. Friday and Saturday evening performances are at 8, Sunday matinees at 3. Tickets are $20 through Eventbrite or cash at the door, with a limited number of free tickets for those with military ID. Performances are at The Collaborative, 421 W. Broadway, Long Beach 90802. Info/tickets: http://ustourofduty.org
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