The Play’s the Thing
There’s something about open-air productions of Shakespeare plays that seems very cosmopolitan and cool. It feels like what one does during summer in a sophisticated city. And so it is in Irvine, thanks to the New Swan Shakespeare Festival, which has been produced at UCI since 2012.
This is the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, so its especially exciting that UCI does its best to make the experience immediate and modern, in an authentic setting. The New Swan Theater seats only 130, and its innovative al fresco design puts everyone under the stars and close to and surrounding the actors. The theater is itself a movable work of art, a mini-Elizabethan playhouse put in place near the school’s library each summer.
This season’s main plays are everyone’s favorite existential ghost story known, “Hamlet,” and a Depression-era presentation of “As You Like It” that will see Rosalind hopping a freight train to the Forest of Arden.
But those two productions are just part of the story at the festival, which runs from July 7 to August 28. The New Swan Theater also features three Musical Mondays.
Shakespeare’s Fool features the Bard as a songwriter. Those familiar with the plays know that there are many lyrics on the pages, but what about the music that goes with them? Musician Jason Feddy has written modern tunes for 10 of Shakespeare’s most well-know songs, and on July 25 he will perform them, accompanied by musicians and actors.
On August 2, the female mariachi band Las Colibri will repeat last year’s popular performance as one of the most unique ensembles of its type.
The final Musical Monday is all about Mozart, as members of the L.A. Philharmonic are among the classical musicians that form the New Swan String Quartet for one performance.