The Southern California Shakespeare Festival (SCSF) has selected “Titus Andronicus” as its 15th Season production, running for four weekends between Aug. 23 and Sept. 14 at the Cal Poly Pomona Studio Theatre and the School of Arts and Enterprise in Downtown Pomona.
Fourteen deaths driven by hatred and revenge underscore William Shakespeare’s bloodiest fictional story about the real-life barbarism that undid the Roman Empire. In the original script, Roman general Titus Andronicus returns home with the Gothic queen Tamora and her children in chains. The people name Titus as emperor, but he places the late emperor’s eldest son on the throne. In the new emperor Tamora finds new power and uses it to perpetuate a cycle of bloodshed quickly spinning out of control.
SCSF’s production, however, reimagines “Titus Andronicus” as a modern tragedy occurring within a Roman Empire that never fell, yet is plagued by the same ever-present and all-consuming media environment we know today.
Many interpretations of “Titus Andronicus” revel in the ceaseless slaughter for slaughter’s sake, but SCSF offers a different understanding of the story. Robert Shields, director of SCSF’s production, said the goal of his show is to satisfy more than viewers’ bloodlust by emphasizing the human impact of such gratuitous violence.
“I want to obfuscate the wanton violence in this play by focusing on the consequences it has on people,” Shields said. “It’s our goal to shift the emphasis of the script toward exploring how this violence affects the psychology of those who commit and survive it.”
SCSF’s “Titus Andronicus” plays at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 23-24, 30-31, Sept. 6-7 and at 2 p.m. Aug. 25 and Sept. 1, 8, at Cal Poly Pomona’s Studio Theatre. The show continues at 7 p.m. on Sept. 13-14 at the School of Arts and Enterprise in Downtown Pomona. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for all students and senior citizens. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.bit.ly/scsf15.
SCSF is a Shakespeare-centric program founded by Professor Linda Bisesti, the head of acting at Cal Poly Pomona’s Department of Theatre and New Dance. The program features a company of guest artists and university-level student actors, designers and production crewmembers from the past 15 years who collaborate to bring a one of Shakespeare’s works to life each year.