Shakespeare Festival returns for 13th season

By Dominick Batchi

The Southern California Shakespeare Festival is back again for its 13th season, debuting this fall.

“The Comedy of Errors,” one of Shakespeare’s earliest and most humorous plays, will be performed by student actors from Cal Poly Pomona’s Department of Theatre and New Dance. The students will be joined by professional actors from the Actors’ Equity Association.

“This is a very, very big event, one that I’ve been producing for over 10 years,” said Linda Bisesti, theatre professor and head of acting at CPP.

Bisesti, known for her many works in artistic directing and producing, has put on SCSF to show how the narrative of Shakespeare’s writing tells us a story that is very much modern.

“I started the festival as I wanted students to have a professional credit on their resume before they graduated,” she said. “We like to take his work, not rewrite his language or themes, but put a creative spin on it.”

The play is set in modern day Venice Beach, California as a comedy show with underlying themes.

With many sold-out shows in its past 12 seasons, SCSF is also a learning platform for students interested in pursuing theatre by giving them the opportunity to work with professional actors and directors.

Kaitlyn Tice, a third-year theatre stduent, will be performing for the first time in SCSF this season.

“This is one of the big reasons why I came to CPP, it was a deciding factor when I chose to transfer,” said Tice.

She explained how this play “sets a bar for students to achieve, since we’re working alongside professional actors.”

With rehearsals for the show not starting until late summer, actors and theatre design students are expected to put in hard work to make the show a success.

“Being a professional actor for years, this show really pushes students to put everything they have into it,” said Bisesti.

“Having the opportunity to share the stage with people who could have taught me and instructed me is surely something that’s extraordinary,” said sixth-year theatre student Kendra Culla.

This is Culla’s third year performing in SCSF and is something that she looks forward to each year.

Because Shakespeare’s writings are in Old English, there can be quite a barrier when trying to act out what’s being stated.

“Language is a huge component of the play, and utilizing it while trying to decipher it where it makes sense to the audience plays a big role,” said Culla.

With a lot of the themes being central to the play’s overall draw to the audience, it’s how well the cast works together that will make it come across smoothly.

“The ensemble of so many levels of actors is truly great. It’s a challenge but also a great experience for students interested to act in their future,” said Bisesti.

There will be several performances throughout fall quarter.

SCSF provides campus entertainment but also a bridge for students willing to put in the work necessary to grow as professional actors.

“Be open and go for it,” said Culla about student actors who may be performing for their first time this season. “The result is always rewarding.”

Courtesy of Department of Theatre and New Dance

‘The Comedy of Errors’ poster

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