Offering a different kind of midsummer night’s dream, the 2015 Sonnet Festival brings Shakespeare to University Park.
Students, faculty and guest actors will perform Shakespeare’s sonnets at the Tuesday, June 2, fundraiser for the Southern California Shakespeare Festival, also known as SCSF. The event begins at 5 p.m.
This is the 11th season of the SCSF, and this year’s production will be “Macbeth.” Professional actors from the Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), alumni actors and current student actors will work together on “Macbeth.” A total of 30 actors, 23 students and 7 professionals, will perform in the festival.
“The whole reason we started the festival was to give my students more experience,” says Linda Bisesti, artistic director of the SCSF. ”I wanted my students to have the opportunity to work with professionals so they could have more experience when they graduate.”
This benefits not only the students who perform but also those who attend, as the Sonnet Festival provides an introduction to Shakespeare.
“The Sonnet Festival is a good opportunity to connect with people who like Shakespeare and expose those who maybe don’t have this type of experience,” says Samantha Girod, a third-year theatre major. “Shakespeare should be performed, not read. Actors help bring the story together.”
Although sonnets are short snippets compared to Shakespeare’s plays, there is still a story presence in both comedy and tragedy. Theatre majors Andrew Garcia and Jasmine Mosebar will be performing sonnets that follow each other in a series, but each has a different take on it.
Garcia chose Sonnet 138 because it resonated with him. In the sonnet, the speaker is thought of as being naive, and when Garcia first read it there was a similar situation happening in his life.
Mosebar will perform Sonnet 137 because she says it’s humorous yet cynical.
“It’s fun because she’s morally conflicted that she’s attracted to this man,” she says. “It’s a lot of fun to perform.”
This year, there will be games and activities in addition to the sonnets, making the festival more family oriented. Having the Sonnet Festival performed outdoors allows more opportunity for creativity.
“Shakespeare was originally performed outdoors, and there is a lot of celebration of nature in his work,” Bisesti says. “Having the Sonnet Festival outside is a way of honoring him and that tradition.”
In past years, students have turned sonnets into raps, adding beatboxing and hand gestures.
“It gives people a chance to realize that young people still enjoy Shakespeare, and would like to perform it in different ways,” says Odanis Perez, a second-year theatre major. “It shows a lot of creativity in something that was written over 400 years ago. It’s how we keep it alive, and modernize it in a sense. It’s a way to help the classics continue.”
The student performers are excited to showcase Shakespeare for their peers.
“Good work doesn’t die. It remains with you,” Garcia says. “That’s what happens with these sonnets.”
Sonnet Festival tickets are $7. For more information about the festival, visit www.southerncaliforniashakespearefestival.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Bisesti at email@example.com or (909) 869-3987.