Faculty and students will read Shakespearean sonnets at a June 3 fundraising event to support the 10th annual Southern California Shakespeare Festival.
The sonnet reading will take place in the courtyard of University Plaza (the old stables). Among the faculty expected to participate in the readings are Assistant Theatre Professor Bernardo Solano, English and Foreign Languages Professor Edward Rocklin, and Political Science Professor David Speak.
The event will raise money for the Shakespeare Festival, which Theatre Professor Linda Bisesti founded 10 years ago as a way to give students an opportunity to work with and perform alongside stage professionals. It’s the only festival of its kind still performing in the CSU, Bisesti says.
“The professional actors have worked in festivals all throughout the United States,” she adds. “For students who are thinking of going on to graduate theatre programs, it’s really a big credit to have worked on a production with professional credibility.”
The sonnet fundraiser will take place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 3. Tickets are $5 and are available at the event. For more information, contact Bisesti at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Year’s Festival to Feature Classic Tragedy
This year, the festival will perform one of the bard’s best-known plays, “Julius Caesar,” from Sept. 13 to Oct. 5. The play recounts the conspiracy against the ambitious Roman dictator; his assassination; and the conspirators’ fates, including that of their leader, Brutus, who some scholars have speculated may have been Caesar’s illegitimate son.
Alejandro Jimenez, a third-year theatre student, will act in this year’s festival, which is his first Shakespearean production.
“It’s a little intimidating. It’s a really big mountain to climb as an actor, but I’m really excited to get started,” Jimenez says. “I’m excited for the challenge. Watching how the professionals work is amazing.”
Joyce Hwang, a theatre student and stage manager, says the festival is a great opportunity.
“I was just so excited to gain experience and exposure to professionals and to network,” she says.
There’s a twist to this year’s production: Bisesti will play Caesar.
“We wanted to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the festival and investigate the political climate that is about to open with the 2016 elections,” she says. “We decided to cast Caesar as a woman, because there’s the possibility of having a woman for president.”
Bisesti knows that theatergoers may have different reactions to seeing a female Caesar: Some may balk at having a woman playing a man’s role; some may not care. Others may find it fascinating, while still more may see it as advocating for a female president.
“That’s not the case at all. It’s just examining what it’s like to have a woman in power,” she says.
Having a female play a male character is not new in theatre at Cal Poly Pomona. Samantha Girod, a second-year theatre student who has a supporting role in “Julius Caesar,” played a man in “Bedroom Farce” last fall. She prepared for that part by observing men and talking with her roommate’s boyfriend.
“It was really fun. I wasn’t trying to act more masculine,” she recalls. “At the same time, I was trying to be different.”
Although “Julius Caesar” tells a story from before the time of Christ, this production will have a 21st century costume and set design, Bisesti says.
Online ticket sales for the Southern California Shakespeare Festival will begin June 20. Tickets are $12 for seniors, students, faculty and staff, and $15 for general admission. The box office will begin accepting phone reservations at (909) 869-3800 on Aug. 17.