iambic315 – Los Angeles Drama Club

Why the Best Teachers are Learners – Gertrude of Africa

From the Journal of Miss Blaire,  March 20, 2018

We reach Chicken’s house in Motopi. It’s very hot in here and I’ve been traveling for 29 hours and I want to jump in a lake but I can’t because there are hippos at night in there and besides, now I have to learn how to work the house. It’s not a SmartHouse, people. You have to heat your shower water in a tub from an electric tea kettle.  Then there are the breakers, which my new neighbor Pinky demonstrates.  Then there is Dooming the Room (spraying for mosquitoes). Brooks sees that my brain is cracking so he and Chicken and Pinky leave and soon I am left alone. Too tired to sleep, especially due to one mosquito which I swat to no avail. I hide under the sheet, but he is loud. I follow Brook’s advice, Doom the Room and go outside. There are a zillion stars in the sky. I see two fall inside five minutes.

I see things in the sky I never saw before. I ask myself, why do we go to the moon? We’re already on a spaceship, this is the greatest spaceship ever. We can breathe and eat and move….

Motopi School, Botswana, Africa.  From the Journal of Miss B.  March 21, 2018

Why am I always asking myself questions? I guess because I don’t want it to end with “this I know.”  I want to re-ask old questions and dust off old ideas.  I’m not a teacher. I’m a learner and an unlearner. And what do I do with youth and theatre? Just ask them to try and untry stuff. That is what I will do today when I meet the children in Motopi as I’m shaking off spiders and screaming in the yard.

Brooks swings by for instant coffee and biscuit then brings me to Motopi School. The school is a group of buildings on dirt and overlooking a field. There are classrooms, offices, a kitchen and toilets way off in the field. I hear a rumor about the kids killing a python in the yard recently.

I meet the school headmistress Mma Bharata. Brooks translates for me – speaking in Swana, so that we are on the same page. She  does speak English, but this gives us more of a flow. I show her what we do at Los Angeles Drama Club by playing videos of our young kids. It is obvious on Day One that they aren’t sure what to do with me.  I know that if I could just have some time with the students, everything would become clear. Classes starting and it’s time to meet the Children of Motopi School. Mma Bharata brings me around to each classroom. When we enter, the children immediately rise and greet us in English: “Good morning, teacher!” From pre-school to seventh grade, they wear uniforms and are impeccably groomed. I say “Good morning, how are you?” “We are fine, Madame.”

We are on a morning Nutrition break. It’s a beautiful hot African day and the entire school is running free. I learn that some of the kids come to school hungry and this is their first meal. It’s said not as a complaint, but a piece of information as to why some are less ebullient than others.  Everyone dips their hands into pails, scooping out what looks like hominy. One grabs my hand – the goo spreading. Great. I assume now, that this gluey substance just…stays on our hands…until it’s forgotten?

Blended Fingers.

Sticky fingers everywhere. I really want to find a towel to wipe it off, but I’m physically trapped inside a mob of First Graders huddling for a photo. (the kids crowd in; they have gobs of space, but they love to clump together like one flailing octopus). In the middle of this clump of bodies under the Acacia tree, an idea comes to me.  I speak, they repeat. Over and over. Now they do it on their own. In five minutes, the first words of Shakespeare are officially spoken by a group of six year olds.  “To Be Or Not to Be.”

The hominy stuck on my hand has dried. And for the rest of the day….is forgotten.

To Be Or Not To Be.

My favorite teacher, Miss Hayes, was an archaeologist, and she was always learning. Coming back from a dig or some kind of research adventure. I remember her because of her storytelling. It was about what she had JUST LEARNED. Everything she said felt like it was happening now. The best teachers are storytellers. Curious, open-minded and allowing new approaches into their pedagogy.  The teachers in Motopi are required to teach out of books. But when they break the pattern of that and speak from their passion or experience, it’s a completely different energy and everyone wakes up. I feel so lucky as a teaching artist – this is ALL I get to do – is speak from passion and wake everyone up.  The women teachers in Motopi are nurturers but they also have fire. The first one that catches my attention is Gertrude. I marvel that her name is Gertrude. She knows about Hamlet’s Gertrude. Could Shakespeare have known that 400 years down the road, a woman in Botswana will be talking about her given name being a one of his characters? “Not for the age but for all time….” She invites me to her classroom after Nutrition. A bell is rung and in a minute, the children are gone and the yard is quiet.

Stand Alone and Say It !

I walk into Miss Gertrude’s 4th Grade class. They stand and greet me. They are up for anything.  With English being academic here, I keep it to almost zero talking.  I start tapping out: dee DUMB/dee DUMB/dee DUMB/dee DUMB/dee DUMB… on my chest. I invite them to join. Everyone understands a heartbeat.  “This is the language of the heart. And our writer might have walked while he thought of his lines, so his heart was pounding – the rhythm matched.”  (This is really a theory.) Once they got the five dee dumbs, class receives their first Iambic Pentameter line: the one we like to start with at L.A. Drama Club:

“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”

Second Time Around.

So now it’s time to fill this line with ingredients. No writing anything down! Every word is conveyed through sound, tone, and gesture. UNEASY. Since it is not the opposite of “easy,” we look for a synonym …we work with the concept of being very uncomfortable, of feeling unsafe. They get UNSAFE. Now we all stand together, acting out what “unsafe” looks like, feels like.  Now I ask, “Who is a person who wears a crown?” No blank stares here. A tiny voice calls out: The Queen. I thought, this is interesting that Queen was thought of before King. Now we talk about POWER. “Why should a king or a queen or a president or general be ‘UNEASY’? With castles, mansions, fame and money, why are they saying they’re uncomfortable? Can they ever rest? What if somebody wants to take it from them? Maybe they worry about the country all the time.”

Botswana president, Ian Khama*, is a responsible man and a conservationist. Brooks tells me how he has re-routed the Botswana army to focus on poachers. Also, in this country, no cammos allowed! Hear that America? It’s not a fashion statement over here. So in this case, the “Head that wears a crown” might be uneasy from sadness or concern about the elephants being shot for tusks in the Kalahari.  Class gets it.  They all chant the line, tapping out the dee DUM. And they take on the tone of the line now.  Hands go up. Every single one of them vying for the opportunity to  to chant it alone, in front of their peers.

Gertrude’s Fourth Grade class  now shows a visceral, personal understanding of this one simple Shakespeare line. They also get to ponder how getting to the top of the Power Food Chain has a price.  It was in their bodies now.

They ask for another line.

This is when I say, “I think we could put on a show here.” Gertrude was all in, almost ahead of me.  “Let me handle the audience. You’ll have your show.”  I am heartened that there are curious learners here teaching curious children. And I have hope that this can be the first “Youngest Shakespeare Troupe in Africa.”

.

Meeting the children of Mma Wilson’s class at Motopi School. Getting ready to try our tongue twisters!

 

*At the time this was written, Ian Khama was President. On April 1, his term ended.

Announcing our 2018-2019 Season

We are excited to announce our 2018-2019 Shakespeare Youth Festival LA season! If you are new to Los Angeles Drama Club, then you must click here to schedule a phone interview before registering. We look forward to speaking with you.

SYFLA Fall – Taming of the Shrew Churl

What happens when Petruchia, a single-minded young woman, determined to marry well, meets Jake, otherwise known as the Shrew … er, that is, the Churl? His younger brother Bianco has all the girls in a tizzy, but thanks to the messed up social order of the land, they can’t do anything about it until Jake is married off. We’re subverted the established opinions and “schools of thought” on the already controversial “Taming of the Shrew” by reversing the genders, turning conventional concepts on their 16th century heads.
4th through 9th grade

LEARN MORE


YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS WORKSHOP

Our young playwrights will work at the center of a creative team of professional writers, directors and actors and will receive true professional support and a glimpse into the process of play making!  The young playwrights will hone their one-act plays over the course of the workshop, working from the initial isolation of writing to the collaborative process involved in making their script into a living, breathing play. The workshop will culminate in a script-in-hand public reading of their new plays.
7th grade and up

LEARN MORE


SYFLA Winter/Spring – As You Like It

Evil Duke Frederick is not a nice guy. After a rigged wrestling match goes sour, Rosalind and friends escape the rigidity and nastiness of the cruel city, where they were the victims of arbitrary and unfair rules, for the Forest of Arden, where “Do Unto Others” is the law of the land, and where a cast of eccentric characters are all just trying to find someone to love. Our youngest Players will have a great challenge exploring one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies!
2nd through 7th grade

LEARN MORE


SYFLA Winter/Spring – Cymbeline

Whatever your favorite Shakespearean plot device may be, it probably shows up in Cymbeline! Mistaken identity? Check. Girls dressed as boys? Check. Long lost family members reuniting? Check. Young lovers torn apart by class issues? Check. Nefarious tricksters? Check. Battle scenes? Check. Gods descending from Olympus at the last minute to set things right? Yes, that, too! We can’t wait to explore all the fantastic characters in this Shakespeare Smoothie.
4th through 9th grade

LEARN MORE


SYFLA Winter/Spring – Henry IV

Our combining of Part I and Part II, custom crafted for our teen ensemble, will not only explore King Henry IV, his renegade son and heir to the throne Hal, and Hal’s roguish friend Falstaff, but will also highlight the women in the story – Mistress Quickly, Doll Tearsheet, Lady Percy, and Lady Mortimer.
8th through 12th grade

LEARN MORE

 

LADC Players in Whitley Heights

It was a gorgeous Sunday morning, and the park behind the Hollywood Heritage Museum was filled with Shakespeare. Several dozen neighborhood residents turned out for “Shakespeare in Our Park,” sponsored by the Whitley Heights Civic Association. After a rousing opening, featuring some stirring sword fighting by Master Teacher Kila Packett as Shakespeare and Brandon Nagle as Marlowe, our troupe performed selections from several Shakespeare plays, and, in between, got the audience into the act learning Shakespeare insults, theater games and even some Stage Combat moves.

We were honored to have a representative from Councilman David Ryu’s office, who presented Blaire and Julia with Certificates of Recognition from the City of Los Angeles.

Thank you to Greg Orson and Patty Dryden for making this stellar event possible!

If you are interested in Los Angeles Drama Club performing at your school, community center, festival, etc, please email us for more information!!

 

Taming of the Shrew Churl

What happens when Petruchia, a single-minded young woman, determined to marry well, meets Jake, otherwise known as the Shrew … er, that is, the Churl? His younger brother Bianco has all the girls in a tizzy, but thanks to the messed up social order of the land, they can’t do anything about it until Jake is married off. We’re subverted the established opinions and “schools of thought” on the already controversial “Taming of the Shrew” by reversing the genders, turning conventional concepts on their 16th century heads.

COST: $550 
(We believe that every child who is drawn to this work should be able to participate, so we offer a variety of scholarships – click here to apply for a scholarship. Please do not hesitate to apply!)

September 12 to December 9
Ages – 4th grade to 9th grade

Rehearsals: Wednesdays – 4 to 6 pm
Additional Tech rehearsals:
Marathon – Sunday, November 18 (Time TBD)
Dress/Techs – Monday, November 26 and Thursday, November 29 (3:30 to 6:30 pm)
Regular attendance is critical – when a Player misses a rehearsal, it impacts the entire cast. Please note any conflicts when registering. 

Performances – December 1 & 2 and 8 & 9 (Time TBD)

Young Playwrights Workshop

Our young playwrights will work at the center of a creative team of professional writers, directors and actors and will receive true professional support and a glimpse into the process of play making!  The young playwrights will hone their one-act plays over the course of the workshop, working from the initial isolation of writing to the collaborative process involved in making their script into a living, breathing play. The workshop will culminate in a script-in-hand public reading of their new plays.

COST: $550 
(We believe that every child who is drawn to this work should be able to participate, so we offer a variety of scholarships – click here to apply for a scholarship. Please do not hesitate to apply!)

September 10 to November 5
7th grade and up

Meets: Mondays – 4 to 6 pm
Showcase – Sunday, November 11th (Time TBD)

Cymbeline

Whatever your favorite Shakespearean plot device may be, it probably shows up in Cymbeline! Mistaken identity? Check. Girls dressed as boys? Check. Long lost family members reuniting? Check. Young lovers torn apart by class issues? Check. Nefarious tricksters? Check. Battle scenes? Check. Gods descending from Olympus at the last minute to set things right? Yes, that, too! We can’t wait to explore all the fantastic characters in this Shakespeare Smoothie.

COST: $625 
(We believe that every child who is drawn to this work should be able to participate, so we offer a variety of scholarships – click here to apply for a scholarship. Please do not hesitate to apply!)

October 20 to March 31 (no rehearsal Thanksgiving weekend, Winter Break Dec. 16 – Jan 6)
Ages – 4th grade to 9th grade

Rehearsals: Saturdays – 1 to 3 pm
Additional Tech / Extended rehearsals:
Marathon – Saturday, March 2 (11:00 am to 3:00 pm)
Dress Techs – Wednesday, March 6, Monday, March 11 and Thursday, March 14 (3:30 – 6:30 pm)
Performances – March 16 & 17, March 23 & 24 (Time TBD)
Regular attendance is critical – when a Player misses a rehearsal, it impacts the entire cast. Please note any conflicts when registering. 

THIS SESSION IS FULL. PLEASE CONTACT US IF YOU’D LIKE TO BE PLACED ON THE WAITING LIST.

As You Like It

Evil Duke Frederick is not a nice guy. After a rigged wrestling match goes sour, Rosalind and friends escape the rigidity and nastiness of the cruel city, where they were the victims of arbitrary and unfair rules, for the Forest of Arden, where “Do Unto Others” is the law of the land, and where a cast of eccentric characters are all just trying to find someone to love. Our youngest Players will have a great challenge exploring one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies!

COST: $625 
(We believe that every child who is drawn to this work should be able to participate, so we offer a variety of scholarships – click here to apply for a scholarship. Please do not hesitate to apply!)

October 20 to March 17 (no rehearsal Thanksgiving weekend, Winter Break Dec. 16 – Jan 6)
Ages – 2nd grade to 7th grade

Rehearsals: Saturdays – 3 to 5 pm
Additional Tech rehearsals:
Saturday, March 2 – 3:00 to 6:30 pm (regular class session extended)
Monday, March 4 and Thursday, March 7 – 3:30 – 6:30 pm
Regular attendance is critical – when a Player misses a rehearsal, it impacts the entire cast. Please note any conflicts when registering. 

Performances – March 9 & 10, March 16 & 17 (Time TBD)

Henry IV

Our combining of Part I and Part II, custom crafted for our teen ensemble, will not only explore King Henry IV, his renegade son and heir to the throne Hal, and Hal’s roguish friend Falstaff, but will also highlight the women in the story – Mistress Quickly, Doll Tearsheet, Lady Percy, and Lady Mortimer.

COST: $625 
(We believe that every child who is drawn to this work should be able to participate, so we offer a variety of scholarships – click here to apply for a scholarship. Please do not hesitate to apply!)

October 23 to March 31 (Winter Break Dec. 16 – Jan 6)
Ages – 8th grade to 12th grade

Rehearsals: Tuesdays – 4:30 to 6:30 pm or 5 to 7 pm (contingent on space)
Additional Tech rehearsals:
Marathon – Sunday, March 3rd (Time TBD)
Dress Techs – Wednesday, March 13, Wednesday, March 20 and Thursday, March 21 (3:30 – 6:30 pm)
Regular attendance is critical – when a Player misses a rehearsal, it impacts the entire cast. Please note any conflicts when registering. 

Performances – March 23 & 24, March 30 & 31 (Time TBD)

Screaming Shakespeare While Shaking off Spiders

Flying over Ireland.  From the Journal of Miss Blaire.  March 19, 2018

Still here.  Just sitting in Lufthansa seat 23D with a busy head. But my thoughts are upgrading – strangely – the further away from Los Angeles I get. Latest thought:

Do people who have everything (i.e. the Haves) have ANY reason to get out of bed? While people who have nothing (i.e. Have Nots) have no choice BUT to get out of bed…

Would you like a beverage? 

Glad for that interruption. Coffee. I’m on the second leg of after a long layover in Frankfurt. Germans around me all going To J-burg. They like nature…they like to walk…they “enjoy the heat.”  Frankfurt is snowing. I grabbed a train to Old Town and walked for an hour and wrote in a coffee house. My cousins live not far, but not enough time to ask them to zip over.  I am heartened by the fact that people still talk in coffee houses! And  for once – I love the sound of loud voices around me. 

Short Layover in Frankfurt

It means revolutions can still be plotted. It means not everyone is more interested in  their phone than a live person. Tradition was are alive and well at 4:00pm in Europe.  I admit I did go on my phone here, only to fine I can’t “check in” online to my Air Botswana flight.  This is valuable information for anyone traveling this airline. The booking agent did not inform me. Wow. I have half an hour to transfer in J-Burg. Thats not good.  If I sleep, maybe when I wake up this will be solved.

March 20, 2018. Johannesburg

Stepping off the plane, I get a blast of hot air – Africa.  I can’t believe it. This is like nothing else. But exhilaration soon turns to terror when the last suitcase tumbles onto the carousel and it’s not mine. Then I am told my bag is on a plane to Maun. The airport worker says shyly, “You are very late. We need to run.”  We run so fast I get a side-ache and have to stop,  but we make it to Air Botswana. Relief. Gratitude – I could never have found this on my own. She was the only way. I’m at the check in counter – the final leg of this 26 hour trek will fly by. Then it goes bad. I can tell from their faces. “You are too late. The flight is closed. Come back tomorrow.”

Tomorrow? There is no tomorrow.

I broke down. I can barely explain, “there’s a man waiting at Maun, and it’s my only chance. There’s a school waiting and children… and I’ve been traveling 26 hours…”  The gatekeeper shrugged.  “Okay.”  She can single-handedly decide based on her…heartstrings? The woman who ran with me now brings me down the escalator to a van! Now I start laughing. I’m being gaslit by the universe and it’s funny to me.  Shakespeare line of the moment:  “My drops of tears, I’ll turn into sparks of fire.” And I will.

The plane to Maun

I hug the airport worker, tears rolling down my face. My first half hour on the continent has included a sprinting marathon and a nervous breakdown and two plot twists.  I am feeling quite alive. In the tram to the plane, I meet my fellow passengers.  Australian and British tourists, poised in crisp, beige Safari outfits – we have little in common. Here are The Haves. Most of them loud, bossy, confident… and comical in their beige costumes. We board the plane and I am next to a British couple, bickering. “This is the tiniest plane on the planet.” When the Attendant announces that an insecticide – ‘with no adverse side effects’  –  will now be sprayed all over the plane, the women duck, freaking out. I did hear about this, so now I am enjoying my non-reaction to it. My bionic ear records more conversation from the Beige People. They are excited. They get to go on safari and they paid a lot more so that they can be here – in the more exclusive Okavango Delta, versus the “tourist mecca of Kenya.” I update my idea. The Haves DO have a reason to get up in the morning. They will go on games drives. That is not in my agenda here. But I am just grateful there is no hunting allowed in this country.  We take off and I look down the entire time.

Africa from the air. It’s flat here, with green and long, long, needle-thin roads and a windy river….I feel peaceful now.  I drift to sleep in this tiny plane. We land on the tarmac and are guided to Customs where more things go WILDLY HAYWIRE! Forms filled wrong, check.  Glasses lost, check. Luggage missing, check. Passport snagged…check. Until I  “give an address of where I’m staying”! Then it occurred to me, I have no idea where I’m staying. It’s all up to a man named Brooks Kamanakao. The “two email” man. But they won’t let me go out there to find him.  I’m officially in a Shakespeare comedy:  epic problems that are hilarious only to spectators. So it’s one more rule they have to enforce. Until they change their minds and let me go look for Brooks. He’s standing right there holding a sign with my name,  perfectly spelled.  We get right into action. One: Brooks puts a search in with his friend for my lost luggage,  Two: tells me in the village of Motopi … there are no addresses. So we make one up. I think to myself no addresses in Motopi but  if all goes well, the address of the youngest Shakespeare troupe in Africa.

Brooks, the “Fixer” and his brother Machine save the day!

Before taking off for Motopi, we settle down at an open air place called Tandurei, near Maun Airport, for Indian pizza. Instantly  cousins, nephews, brothers of Brooks…pass by or sit down. In fact, the brother of Brooks, “Machine” tells me he is a teacher and he is curious about his students learning some acting exercises and Shakespeare. English is a good thing, they tell me, they want their kids to be fluent. It gives them an edge. Swana is only spoken in Botswana, so if they want to leave, they better know English. More loud voices, more talking...I realize what’s happened to me. Maybe to everyone at home. Talking with each other has been reduced to maybe…8 minutes a day? It’s all texting and my head is left to its own devices on how to hear the words.  Does this explain why the voices in my head are so loud?! 

After dinner we hit the grocery store. I’m curious about it. I see most items are imported from South Africa. Nothing local. I buy food for the week. Granola, milk in a box, potatoes, carrots, bottled water and tea biscuits.  Brooks looks skeptical. “It’s not enough. There is nothing where you are going.”

We get out of town when Brooks cuts into a small road and weaves through some sporadic homes. It’s a pit-stop. We are checking on a house Brooks is building so he can rent it out and retire as a tour guide.  This is where I first encounter the Botswana House Spider: the size of my hand.  My eyes are bugging. This is going to be a challenge. He lets me know, get ready. They are in all the houses. They are like part of the walls… He tells me about this American teenager whining, “OMG, Mom, I wanna go home, like right now!” I vow to face my arachnophobia and overcome it. I have no choice.

Weaving Spiders Come Not Here.
Hence you Long Legged Spinners, Hence!

We go pick up a woman called “Chicken” who owns the house where I will stay. Chicken explains that she is a widow and she left her home back the village and moved to Maun. She is riding along to let me in the house.

The road to Motopi is filled with potholes: the cars swerve along the road, a very funny sight. We stop at a Checkpoint where we all get out of the car and step into a wet box of dirty water and bicarbonate of soda which – apparently – magically wards off Hoof & Mouth disease at this county border. The virus wiped out Botswana’s beef industry years back.

Dense trees along the road and a sky filled with animated clouds, all telling stories. Magic is not hard to find in this sky.

Quitting time in Motopi. Bottom and friends block the road.

Why Brooks Kamanakao? Because this is the school of his childhood. These are the kids he wants to help. He wants to teach them conservation and he supports anyone who shows up for them. So he supports me.  I am told I will have to be very loud if we work in the yard; the kids are loud and I might have to scream Shakespeare. We pull up to Chicken’s house. This is now very real. I think, this is about everything I’ve done in my life up to this point – coming together in order so I can be here. I am in this rural African village where I will live by myself and work in the local school as a theatre artist. I’ve done many daring and rash things in my life. And a lot of very strange and difficult things have happened to me.  So I can deal with crisis like no one I know. I survived my childhood and “adulthood” and it wasn’t easy.  Never was it easy.

And this? Going alone to Africa is something I initiated – it’s not something “to survive.”

This is the Pulitzer, the Tony, the Oscar, the Nobel Peace Prize of my life, and what does it look like?

Me screaming Shakespeare in a dirt yard while shaking off spiders.

Tomorrow is school time! To be continued …

“Shakespeare in Africa? What Do You Think You’re Doing?”

From the Journal of Miss Blaire.  LAX.  March 18, 2018. 3 pm.


I’m headed to Africa based on two emails. Two. Emails. That’s what no one else really knows.

The final performances of our ’18 Season (King Lear and my own play, Illspoken: The People vs. William Shakespeare), are actually happening right this very friggin’ minute. I feel strange. I’ve never missed a performance in 13 years of running the Shakespeare Youth Fest! It’s weird not being backstage right now. Like I’ve lost a toddler that’s made a mad dash into the crowd. Aren’t I supposed to be shushing the players or teasing hair or getting Zane’s bloody eyepatch to look red not pink. Making sure Aaron doesn’t touch the set so it falls on ‘Mma again (pictured left). It’s closing night, why am I sitting here at Bradley Terminal waiting to board a three-pronged flight from L.A. to the bottom of Africa? By myself. Why am I crying? Why am I so sad?  Am I scared?  Why am I doing this? I’ve been sick for weeks and I can’t seem to recover. I cough and get weak and lose energy. I was told to cancel this trip (by people who cancel things). But I don’t. I’d sooner die than back down. I was supposed to go with two other women who have been here before. One is my oldest friend. But they had serious things happen and they couldn’t go. How much caffeine was I spinning on when I asked to go to Botswana by myself? And not on Safari, but to launch a performing arts program from scratch at a rural primary school?  No Safari. The voice of multiple people are in my head, now.  “Excuse me.  Shakespeare in Africa? I mean culturally, that makes no sense. More Western thought? And who cares about Shakespeare when they have to deal with clean water and food scarcity? Plus…you’re not James Shapiro, you’re not the RSC or OSF or  The Globe. What do you think you’re doing?”

Los Angeles Drama Club is anything but cute.

With Imposter Syndrome now fully set in as I sit in the terminal. I’m trying to remember, did anyone actually say this to me? No. But I’m sure it’s what all the WhiteSplainers are thinking.  Then, “Oh yeah. No one is thinking about you. Get over it.”  I think I’m taking on shades of Lear himself….”Who am I to my kids?”  The insanity is interrupted by a text from Regan (actually our player, Julia E). “Lear’s going amazing. Best ever.”

Great show. As always.

Yay. Now I can add FOMO on top of Imposter Syndrome. Why can’t I be content, let alone happy? 

It is because I’m a jaded grouch or is it because “no artist is pleased”? I am actually very happy for our Players and I am wise enough to know all the crazy monkey mind talk is fear. I feel like Gloucester at the edge of the cliff. (Even my eye is messed up today). I started this entire “thing” – whatever it is, and even back then I didn’t know what the “plan” was except to get two 5 year-olds to speak Shakespeare. It was an experiment that suddenly  mushroomed into hundreds of kids and 27 plays in the Canon already performed… thirty minutes until boarding….okay. I want this nagging voice to leave me the !$*%!! alone before I walk onto that plane.  I have thirty minutes to write a push back and purge it forever.  Setting alarm with Siri for 4:15pm.  Go:

Why do anything? Why try? If I were nine and a visitor was coming to my school from as far away as southern Africa to share customs, teach a dance, impart the language of Swana, tell stories and legends of their ancestors, act out their folk lore – how would I feel? (….excited, honored, ignited. curious, open, grateful).  So why wouldn’t they feel the same? This is about universal stories. New stimulation. Theatre games bringing connection. Self discovery. Play. I am allowed to show up and play. I am not a colonizer. I am not a celebrity going into a village for photo ops. I am not a tourist on safari. I am an artist who loves young people and theatre and Shakespeare. And I don’t need to be in the Royal Shakespeare to be a champion of the Underdogs, the Forgotten, the Ignored, the Abandoned and the Other 99% of the world.  I am the person to do this. If we fail, we fail. But screw your courage to the sticking place, and we’ll not fail!  Thanks, Lady M.  And thanks for your concern Imposter Syndrome, but I don’t need you on this trip.  You’re staying home. I’m sure you’ll pick me up at the airport…

Jesse, Marieke, Vivian, Sebastian in King Lear

That push back took 9 minutes to write.  With 21 minutes to spare, I’m off to get my last Starbucks. Maybe ever.

6pm. Over Detroit.

Or thereabouts. I left “Who do you think you are?” back at the airport but Nature abhors a vacuum so a new personality has surfaced. The Troubleshooter. The Troubleshooter has accepted that it’s a done deal. The Troubleshooter (my Mother from the grave I’m sure) has caught on to my little secret which no one knows… This trip to the bottom of Africa  hinges on two emails between me and Mr. Brooks Kamanakao: who I don’t know.  Why am I not panicking? Brooks was referred to me via my friend Dee Dee. I trust Dee Dee and Dee Dee trusts Brooks. His last email: “See you at the airport.”

At this point I am ready to arrive in Maun and have no one be there and deal with it. But right now I’m trapped in a tiny seat in Coach with my mother’s voice. An onslaught of: “Where are you staying?… Find a hospital … What if he isn’t at the airport? … You didn’t learn one word of Swana … Did you forget the malaria pills? … Have your passport around your neck.”

I can’t. I won’t. Yap all you want, Troubleshooter.  We’re going to just sit here in coach and stare at the seat in front of us that’s practically rammed into our knees…with all these unanswered questions.  For the next 9 hours.

 

Next installment: Getting to Motopi, Botswana 

Shakespeare Intensive

June 18 – 22
Fais Do Do – 5253 W. Adams Blvd.

Students will spend their days discovering Shakespeare through the best tools and techniques theater has to offer. The LADC technique begins with the improvisational work of Viola Spolin and Agosto Boal, and expands on that to include a variety of physical and vocal disciplines – with the ultimate purpose always to invoke the creative spirit that exists in every child.

During the Summer Intensive, our Players will work on a variety of scenes and sonnets, discover the world of Shakespeare’s Elizabethan England, learn about costume and set design, and enjoy visits from Los Angeles theater professionals.

For 2nd through 9th grade (Fall 2018)

THIS SESSION IS FULL
If you would like to be placed on the waiting list, please email us.

Young Playwrights’ Fest

June 25 – 29
Fais Do Do – 5253 W. Adams Blvd.

THE PLAYS THE THING! WRITE/DIRECT YOUR TEN MINUTE PLAY
The program consists of rigorous, exciting storytelling and playwriting sessions throughout the day, creating short plays out of improvisations with prompts, autobiographical moments, and stories the group creates together. We will also discuss the art, craft and business of playwriting.

The playwrights will work with an ensemble of actors made up of professional actors and LADC actors, who will perform the plays at the end of the week.

Grade 7 and up (Fall 2018)

THIS CLASS IS FULL

Shakespeare and Spolin

July 9 – 13
Echoes on Pico – 5025 W Pico Blvd

LADC has always used Viola Spolin’s Theater Games as one of the foundations of the way we approach Shakespeare, and we are thrilled to have Aretha Sills with us this week. Ms. Sills is the granddaughter of Viola Spolin. She studied Spolin’s improvisational theater games for many years with her father, legendary director Paul Sills, creator/director of The Second City and Story Theater. Our Players will be introduced to a series of games and exercises designed to unleash creativity through spontaneity, focus, and play. They will have a chance to develop the sensory awareness and communication skills needed on-stage and in daily life in an encouraging and joyful environment.

For 2nd through 9th grade (Fall 2018)

THIS SESSION IS FULL
If you would like to be placed on the waiting list, please email us.

Beyond Shakespeare

July 16 – 20
Echoes on Pico – 5025 W Pico Blvd

Back by popular demand, our directors’ exceptional training is brought into this week – guests will come to teach various acting and movement techniques such as Spolin Games, Agosto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed for Social Justice, Kristin Linklater’s Free the Voice, Ann Bogarts VIEWPOINTS, Sanford Meisner, Actor’s Studio, and Laban Effort-Shape.

In addition to these incredible theater tools and de-stressors for everyday life, our students will be exploring Shakespeare’s comrades – classical and modern playwrights with a gift for storytelling, who use language in a distinctive way.

Grade 7 and up (Fall 2018)

THIS SESSION IS FULL

Shakespeare and Music

July 23 – 27
Echoes on Pico – 5025 W Pico Blvd

The works of Shakespeare are filled with song. As always, students will spend their days discovering Shakespeare using a variety of physical and vocal disciplines – with the ultimate purpose always to invoke the creative spirit that exists in every child. But for this special week, we will pay special emphasis to the plays where his words are accompanied with music and dancing.

Participants need not be singers/dancers – each child will have the opportunity to explore within his/her comfort zone, and encouraged to reach outside of it when ready!

For 2nd through 9th grade (Fall 2018)

THIS SESSION IS FULL
If you would like to be placed on the waiting list, please email us.

Shakespeare and Mythology

July 30 to August 3
Echoes on Pico – 5025 W Pico Blvd

We not only explore Shakespeare’s plays set in Greece and Rome, but his references to mythology and Greek and Roman Gods, and the perspectives of Philosophers like Plato, Epicurus, Ovid, Lucretius, Seneca and Cicero. We explore some of the connections between Shakespeare, and playwrights such as Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes and Plautus. And we introduce the basis for all modern books, plays and screenplays – Aristotle’s Poetics. With this rich banquet of ideas, we create original skits and weave them with Shakespeare’s Greek & Roman plays.

For 2nd through 9th grade (Fall 2018)

THIS SESSION IS FULL
If you would like to be placed on the waiting list, please email us.

Summer with LADC 2018

Registration is now open for Summer with LADC 2018 – a fantastic way to introduce kids to Shakespeare!

Each session meets from 9 to 3, Monday through Friday, and culminates with a recital, sharing the work with parents, friends and the community.

We believe that every child who is drawn to this work should be able to participate, so we offer a variety of scholarships – click here for the application form and guidelines. Please do not hesitate to apply!

Shakespeare Youth Festival 2018

ILLSPOKEN: THE PEOPLE VS. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
Don’t miss the third play in LADC’s original “Spoken” trilogy, by LADC founder and artistic director Blaire Baron. Shakespeare’s villains are tired of their terrible reputations, and they decide to take action by suing their creator, Shakespeare. Join them, as they struggle to decide what is more important, reputation … or fame …

The Broadwater Second Stage – 6320 Santa Monica Blvd, LA 90038
Saturday, March 10 & March 17

8 pm
Sunday, March 11 & March 18
2 pm
RESERVE TICKETS

KING LEAR
Family loyalty, legacy and reputation are life and death matters with this affluent Hollywood family who discover just how close they are to the homeless community that surrounds their luxurious “palaces.”

The Broadwater Second Stage – 6320 Santa Monica Blvd, LA 90038
Saturday, March 10 & March 17

2 pm
Sunday, March 11 & March 18
6 pm
RESERVE TICKETS

TIMON OF ATHENS
First a philanthropist, then a bitter misanthropist. In fact, Timon’s character arc is the opposite of Dickens’ Ebenezar Scrooge. He throws decadent parties with merriment and dancing as he tosses his money to alleged friends. He ignores his accountant. And when he goes broke, he is stunned that no one is there for him. Audiences of all ages connect to Shakespeare’s rarely seen morality play on generosity and loyalty and friendship!

Fais Do Do – 5253 W. Adams Blvd, Los Angeles 90016
Saturday, February 24 & Sunday, February 25

Saturday, March 3 & Sunday, March 4
1 pm
This show has closed

 

JULIUS CAESAR
Who is the hero and who is the villain in Shakespeare’s frighteningly current Julius Caesar? Or is there someone behind the curtain? Travel back to the 60s, and the days of The Manchurian Candidate and the Cold War with us as we see that everything old is new again …

Fais Do Do – 5253 W. Adams Blvd, Los Angeles 90016
Saturday, February 24 & Sunday, February 25

Sunday, March 4
4 pm
Friday, March 2
7 pm
This show has closed

RESERVE YOUR TICKETS TODAY

Shakespeare Youth Festival Los Angeles is proud to be supported by

LADC in residency at GALA

We are thrilled to announce that Los Angeles Drama Club is now part of the After School program at Girls Academic Leadership Academy, the first all-girls school within Los Angeles Unified School District! We feel that LADC’s mission is an ideal compliment to GALA’s mission – to graduate girls with a strong, confident, and independent voice, with collaborative and compassionate leadership skills, and with a sense of self and community.

Spring Performance – MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

Generally considered one of Shakespeare’s finest comedies, Much Ado mixes lots of hilarious antics with some scenery-chewing near-tragedy.  Please join us for the merriment …

Presented April 26th and 27th at 5 pm in the Corwin Theater on the LA High campus
(enter on Rimpau or West, and follow the signs)

If you are a GALA student interested in participating, please CLICK HERE.

If you would like to learn how LADC can come to your school, please CLICK HERE.

Celebrate 2017, and Support 2018!!

2017 was a banner year for Los Angeles Drama Club – just take a look at some of our accomplishments:

SHAKESPEARE YOUTH FESTIVAL LA 2017

  • More than $25,000 in financial aid awarded in 2017 meant that there were no financial barriers to a child participating in Shakespeare Youth Festival LA.
  • Children from more than 40 schools all over Los Angeles took part in our programs this year.
  • We performed three plays in repertory for our Spring 2017 season – 45 youth played 81 characters in fourteen public performances.

HELP US CONTINUE THE MAGIC

OUR AUDIENCE

  • 38% of our audience was attending their first LADC production.
  • 28% have attended more than five different productions.
  • Our audiences came from all over Los Angeles, with 44 different zip codes represented.
  • Shakespeare is for all ages – 18% of our audience was under 18. 17% was over 60.

SUPPORT SYFLA 2018

SUMMER WITH LOS ANGELES DRAMA CLUB

  • This Summer, more than 75 kids took part, from 33 zip codes.
  • 65% of the registrations received a full or partial scholarship.
  • We awarded more than $10,000 in scholarships this Summer.
  • We performed six recitals, with 21 Shakespeare scenes, 6 scenes by contemporary playwrights, 9 musical numbers, 10 short plays written by our young playwrights, and countless Shakespearean insults!

LET’S MAKE IT 100 KIDS IN 2018

THE FUTURE

  • We are currently rehearsing four plays, including one original World Premiere, to be presented for Shakespeare Youth Festival LA 2018.
  • We are in residence at Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA), preparing for a full production of The Tempest, to be presented in December.
  • We worked with students at Episcopal School Los Angeles (ESLA), as they began their study of Midsummer Night’s Dream, and are in discussions with four more schools to become a part of their curriculum.
  • Our Artistic Director, Blaire Baron, is preparing for a trip to Africa in the Spring, to bring our work to Botswana as a part of the Botswana School Project!

While LADC is proud to be supported by a number of government entities, foundations and community organizations, individual contributions make up the majority of our support. With your support, youth in Los Angeles (and soon, Botswana!) can continue to grow up with William Shakespeare!

Illspoken: The People vs. William Shakespeare

What would happen if Shakespeare’s Top Villains colluded in a Class Action Law Suit against the Bard for Defamation of Character?

Ill-Spoken: The People vs. William Shakespeare is now in rehearsals with our Willful Minors – we are delighted that our players are part of the Development team of the Third of this award winning Trilogy by playwright Blaire Baron.

Like Unspoken and Outspoken, the dark comedy brings 10 unwieldy characters into modern day to participate in the undoing of the Canon so they may enjoy a more seemly and positive Legacy. (The evil that men do lives after them.) They feel they have been unwittingly slandered and an explosive discussion arises over “Free Will” – if you follow our drift.

Playwright: Blaire Baron
Directors: Julia Wyson, Anniwaa Buachie

Fais Do Do – 5253 W Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016

REHEARSALS
Mondays from 4:00 to 6:00 pm
October 16 through December 11
January 8 through February 19
February 26 & March 5 – Extended hours (4:00 – 7:00)

ADDITIONAL REHEARSALS
Sunday, February 11
Sunday, February 18
Wednesday, February 28 – 4:00 to 8:00 pm
Wednesday, March 7 – 4:00 to 8:00 pm

PERFORMANCES
March 10, 11
March 17, 18

Please take careful note of rehearsal/performance schedule. No performance conflicts are permitted. All rehearsal absences must be approved in advance.

King Lear

This will mark the first time LADC has tackled this monster – one of Shakespeare’s “Greatest Hits.” Lots of juicy and challenging characters for our teens to tackle.

Teachers: Blaire Baron, Julia Wyson, J. Bailey Burcham

Sacred Fools – 1076 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, CA 90038

REHEARSALS
Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 pm
October 17 through December 12
January 9 through February 20
February 27 & March 6 – Extended hours (4:00 – 8:00)

ADDITIONAL REHEARSALS
Sunday, February 11
Sunday, February 18
Thursday, March 1 – 4:00 to 8:00 pm
Thursday, March 8 – 4:00 to 8:00 pm

PERFORMANCES
March 9, 10, 11
March 16, 17, 18

Please take careful note of rehearsal/performance schedule. No performance conflicts are permitted. All rehearsal absences must be approved in advance.

LADC in residency at GALA

We are thrilled to announce that Los Angeles Drama Club is now part of the After School program at Girls Academic Leadership Academy, the first all-girls school within Los Angeles Unified School District! We feel that LADC’s mission is an ideal compliment to GALA’s mission – to graduate girls with a strong, confident, and independent voice, with collaborative and compassionate leadership skills, and with a sense of self and community.

We’ll be exploring one of Shakespeare’s most magical plays, The Tempest. A shipwreck, a mysterious island, kings, sprites, monsters, power grabs … and repentance. Performance is scheduled for Thursday, December 7th.

If you are a GALA student interested in participating, please CLICK HERE.

If you would like to learn how LADC can come to your school, please CLICK HERE.

Julius Caesar

A first for LADC! We love discovering all the ways that a play like Julius Caesar can come alive and feel personal to a group of 21st Century kids – we’ll be exploring what this play has to say about ambition, art and culture, pride, manipulation, friendship, and more!

Teachers: Blaire Baron, Julia Wyson, Kila Packett

Fais Do Do – 5253 W Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016

REHEARSALS
Saturdays from 1:00 to 3:00 pm
October 14 through December 16
January 13 through February 17
(February 10 & 17 – Extended hours 11:00 – 3:00)

ADDITIONAL REHEARSALS
Wednesday, February 14 – 4:00 to 7:00 pm
Wednesday, February 21 – 4:00 to 7:00 pm

PERFORMANCES
February 24 & 25
March 3 & 4

Please take careful note of rehearsal/performance schedule. No performance conflicts are permitted. All rehearsal absences must be approved in advance.