San Pedro troupe brings the Bard to Altadena and elsewhere this summer
by Sean Fitz-Gerald
Pictured: Lear (David Graham) and Cordelia (Katie Pelensky) in Shakespeare by the Sea's "Tragedy of King Lear."
Farnsworth Park will host Shakespeare by the Sea, (SBTS) a nonprofit organization that puts on free performances of Shakespeare’s timeless tales. This Sunday at 7 PM, SBTS will present their abridged, two-hour version of the "Tragedy of King Lear."
The San Pedro-based Shakespeare by the Sea is currently on its 14th season, says artistic director and founder Lisa Coffi. For those who haven’t heard of the organization before, and are wondering what the buzz is about, Coffi says, “It is kind of like either going to the Hollywood Bowl or the Gibson Amphitheatre, where you are welcome to bring your own picnic baskets and blankets. It’s a good darn time. It’s real family friendly,” Coffi said.
Bringing free Shakespeare to SoCal
When asked why she started SBTS, Coffi said, “I was involved with Shakespeare by the Park in Sacramento, and when I moved down here there wasn’t anything like it.”
One of the most impressive achievements of SBTS is its ability to survive as a nonprofit, and offer communities a priceless experience. Shakespeare by the Sea boasts ticketless admission; thus, creating a theatrical environment that is universal and open to audiences of all ages and financial backgrounds.
“Our mission is to bring Shakespeare to under-served audiences, . . . different demographics and kids,” Coffi said.
Shakespeare, one of the greatest wordsmiths in the English language and, arguably, the world’s preeminent dramatist, wrote dozens of beloved plays, many of which have unfortunately been swept under the rug of modernity. Coffi’s goal is to revitalize Shakespeare with the hopes of promoting literacy, creativity and imagination.
Fight scenes and timeless themes
Coffi said Altadenans can expect an exciting show Sunday with lots of fight scenes for kids and poignancy for the more mature audience members.
If you can’t make "King Lear" this Sunday, SBTS will be back at Farnsworth Park on Aug. 7 with "Much Ado about Nothing," the troupe's comedic production for this season.
Antonia (Dawn Doherty), Hero (Holly Long), Beatrice (Kimberly Patterson) and Leonato (Andy Kallok) in "Much Ado About Nothing."
“I tend to do a comedy and a tragedy together. King Lear is a title I’ve been throwing around for a couple of years. Much Ado seems like a nice pairing with it. So it’ll be one show that we’ve never done before, and one we have done before,” said Coffi.
Bring your picnic baskets and blankets this Sunday to Farnsworth Park and enjoy Shakespeare by the Sea’s production of "King Lear." Make sure to arrive early to secure good seats—there will be bench seating—and enjoy snacks and beverages before the show.
Sean Fitz-Gerald is the lifestyle editor of the Daily Trojan at the University of Southern California.