Bard is back;
Shakespeares Birthday Bash,
fourth summer season feature top talent
enters its fourth full season in Sedona with a group of artists
that include some familiar faces as well as some talent brand
new to the company.
off, the Shakespeare Birthday Bash is a benefit performance
for the groups upcoming season. The lovely Radisson
Poco Diablo Resort will host this theatrical treat, Monday,
include past company members Hamilton Mitchell (recently of
the "Wallace and Ladmo Show"), Ted Barton, and Carson
Elrod, as well as special guests. Festivities begin at 6:15
pm, with dinner at 7:00 and the show at 8:00. Tickets are
$100 per person (tax deductible). For information or reservations
please call 520-821-4391.
This is the third
annual pre-season benefit. The first two were magnificent.
This one promises to be fantastic.
Now, on to the
season . . .
Director Jared Sakren has been holding auditions since last
August and he has just concluded auditions in Sedona and in
Phoenix. Actors will be returning from years past, but some
new faces include Christian Anderson, a veteran of the Utah
Shakespearean Festival who hails from Chicago, Andres Alcala
from Portland whose credits include the Oregon Shakespeare
Festival, and Maren Maclean from New York, also a veteran
of the Utah Festival.
Sakren will be
taking on directing duties with Othello.
"This is the
first tragedy I will have directed for Shakespeare Sedona,"
said Sakren, "and I am very excited about the prospect.
All of the other plays I have directed here have been comedies.
Othello is a tremendous work - some consider it the most perfectly
constructed play Shakespeare wrote. It is a tragedy, and we
all know what that means, but its also just a great
story with unforgettable characters.
"Iago is probably
the most mesmerizing and destructive villain Shakespeare ever
wrote," Sakren continued. "And yet hes also
Sakren has directed
at theatres across the US, including the Alabama Shakespeare
Festival, Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival, The Wonderhorse
Theatre, The Northern Stage Company, and the Denver Center
That Ends Well will be directed by Jesse Berger, a newcomer
to the Sedona Festival. Berger has spent time working at several
of the top theatres in the country, including the Guthrie
Theatre, and the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC.
"I spent a
very formative three years there," Berger said about
the Shakespeare Theatre, "and as a theatre artist and
director I learned more about Shakespeare and verse than most
people do in a decade, especially working with Michael Kahn
and Patrick Stewart.
is very text-based and they have a strong company aesthetic.
The group of actors there has been working for a long time
with Kahn and their clean, storytelling style has had an impact
on me. The acting style is a unique fusion of American method
acting along with a more European/British tradition that focuses
on text, and thats a healthy mix."
His career includes
a laundry list of whos who in theatre.
"It was terrific
working with Patrick Stewart on Othello. Hes a very
smart, very serious actor. He doesnt act like hes
a star - he just happens to be famous. When I worked with
Garland Wright (at the Guthrie), I was struck by his uncanny
ability to visualize the play in extraordinarily dramatic
ways, and of presenting the story in a way that was visually
surprising. He was a painter early in his career. His work
also had a strong influence on me in terms of seeking what
is true and believable onstage - a return to a real belief
in the imagination and beauty of the theatre. I try to bring
some of those qualities to my work, playfully irreverent
is what I would call it.
been very lucky to work with three distinct voices in the
American theatre - all different. Joanne Akalaitis is the
third. Shed kill me if she heard me say this, but she
is a stream of consciousness kind of director.
She prepares thoroughly and then works totally in the moment.
She has a freedom, a sense of the moment and taking the most
striking images and choices, and fusing them all together.
She will throw anything and everything at a play to make it
work, a real sense of spontaneity. I guess what I learned
from her was its OK to change the plan."
excitement about the show and working in red rock country.
Well is a terrific challenge. It has great characters and
speeches, but its also a challenge because its
an imperfect jewel with such complexity to its character and
story. Its a tricky symphony. It has beautiful
music, laughter and tears, tension as well as playfulness.
The skeleton of the play is really a fairy tale, then the
real work begins filling in the details. Im really excited
to get to Sedona and work with the company."
Sakren, who is
one of the Festivals founders rubs his hands together,
smiling ear to ear. "Everyone said Sedonas the
most beautiful place on earth, and now Im looking forward
to both the Company and the location." Sakren said, "We
are very lucky to get a guest director of the caliber of Jesse
Berger. I think this years company is going to be our