The best of summer in Los Angeles: a balmy night on a blanket at the Old Zoo in Grifith Park, being entertained by the Bard, courtesy of the Independent Shakespeare Company. And it’s free!
The Free Shakespeare Festival reports that the summer of 2013 is already breaking all attendance records with some 2,000 people settling into the hillside grass amphitheater last Saturday for a performance of “Macbeth.” This year’s line up also includes “She Stoops to Conquer” and “As You Like It.”
The Independent Shakespeare Company (ISC) performs Thursdays through Sundays at 7 pm during the summer, the full schedule is outlined below. It’s wise to arrive at 5:30, find a spot for your blanket and picnic, and revel in the warm crowd and natural surroundings on the hillside before the performance begins.
John Bauman, Chairman of the ISC Board of Directors, and regular attendee at the Free Shakespeare performances recently provided some pointers for getting the most out of the ISC:
1) Bring low-rise beach chairs (that won’t block the view of the people behind you). If by virtue of your donation to the online “Causevox” campaign you qualified for “Thank You” seating, by all means take advantage; it just makes the whole experience that much less rushed.
2) Bring a light blanket to snuggle with as the night goes on. And a warm shirt or jacket. Generally speaking the evening starts out very comfortable but you’ll be pretty chilly by the time it’s over if you don’t have warm clothes.
3) Read a brief synopsis of the play beforehand. I need to stress that you will not have any problem following the action because the Independent Shakespeare Co. is brilliant at making the plays accessible and relevant to a contemporary audience. But it is my strong personal belief that if your brain is occupied with following the plot you will not be able to focus on some of the most beautiful poetry in the history of the English language and you’ll be missing out on the best part.
4) If you’re coming from the LA side of the hill, think about entering the park from the north via Griffith Park Drive by way of Forest Lawn Drive. It is soooo much easier and more pleasant than fighting your way across town!
5) Content warning for little ones: Macbeth is an exploration of the nature of evil. Once again, the Independent Shakespeare Co. is brilliant at bringing this stuff to life, but it therefore might be a little rough going for people of a more delicate nature.
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