Summer is the time of Free Shakespeare Plays in Los Angeles

I’m lucky to live close to L.A. because, in the summer, Los Angeles is filled with things to do. For one, we have The Last Bookstore, which is just plain awesome and filled with catacombs of used dollar books.

There are also tons of lectures, literary events, book signings, and poetry readings to attend as well.

But my most favorite thing to do in the summer is to attend the free Shakespeare plays put on by the Independent Shakespeare Company as well as Shakespeare by the Sea.

This summer both companies are putting on two Shakespeare plays – one tragedy, and one comedy, each.

Photo by Mike Ditz from the Independent Shakespeare Company website.

The Independent Shakespeare Company is putting on Romeo & Juliet June 25th through July 26th in Griffith Park. This is the classic tale of two adolescents whose forbidden love spins out of control and ends with a double suicide. The Independent Shakespeare Company makes this production their own by adding a little Sid and Nancy twist – this tale is set in the modern world of punk rock. So if you’re a fan of Shakespeare, and/or a fan of punk, this show should blow your socks off.

Photo by Mike Ditz from the Independent Shakespeare Company website.

The second play to be performed from July 30th to August 30th in Griffith Park by the Independent Shakespeare Company is Much Ado About Nothing, which happens to be one of my favorite Shakespeare comedies. Out of all of Shakespeare’s plays, I probably know this one best just from all the times I’ve volunteered to help kids put on this show. This movie was also made into a major motion picture in 2012, directed by Joss Whedon (yes, the same Joss Whedon that directed The Avengers). The Independent Shakespeare Company makes this production their own by setting it in the summer of 1945 in Messina, a city in Sicily.

Miranda painted by Frederick Goodall, exhibited in 1888.

Shakespeare by the Sea’s tragedy is The Tempest, which fits really well with the company’s name since the play is centered around the power, majesty, and inconstant nature of the sea. The Tempest starts with a storm striking a ship while Miranda and Prospero watch. When Miranda asks Prospero if there’s anything he can do to help the ship, Prospero reveals that he’s the one who called up the tempest to make the ship sink as an act of revenge upon his enemies. While there are three plots moving forward in this play, they all intertwine and tell a story that challenges what justice is, questions what makes a man and what makes a monster, and gives us all a healthy dose of fear of the sea.

As You Like it – the Final Scene, painted by Richard Lance Russell.

Shakespeare by the Sea is also putting on As You Like It, the story of Rosalind and her cousin Celia as they flea from court. In the forest of Ardennes, they eventually find love. This play is where the often quoted “All the world’s a stage” speech originated and is credited with being where the idiom “too much of a good thing” came from.

Shakespeare by the Sea is a traveling troupe and go outside of L.A. to perform. To find their performance nearest to you, check out their event calendar.

And, if you’re addicted to Shakespeare and in the state of California, there are tons of paid productions you can see as well.

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