GRIFFITH PARK—The Shakespeare Festival makes it return at The Old Zoo with free admission beginning Saturday, June 29.

The Independent Shakespeare Co. (ISC) will be bringing productions of “Twelfth Night” and “Pericles” for 10 weeks at the now-abandoned zoo in Griffith Park. Alterations to the original plays have been confirmed by Marisa Tecson Johnston, director for ISC development & communications, in an email to Canyon News. “Particularly references and humor that an Elizabeth audience would understand are typically updated for a contemporary audience,” said Johnston.

The 16th season of the free Shakespeare Festival will begin June 29 with “Twelfth Night” directed by David Melville. “Pericles,” directed by Melissa Chalsma, takes over beginning July 27, then both productions will play in repertory through September 1. All performances are free. Performances typically run from 7pm – 10pm.

Schedule of upcoming performance dates.

While the event is free for the public to attend, there will be a season kickoff party on Saturday, May 18. Actor André Martin, best known for his role in “Queen of the South,” “American Crime” and “Worth” hosts the event with a silent auction and ISC entertainment planned.

Performances are held at Old Zoo in Griffith Park, located at 4730 Crystal Spring Dr., near the intersection of Crystal Springs Drive and Griffith Park Drive.

ISC was founded in 1998 by actors sharing a passion for classical works. The summer festival has set there stage at Griffith Park since 2013. In an annual report from 2018, it revealed that 67 percent of festival audience members are under the age of 35. The festival also generated $793,406 in revenue the same year.

“We know that our audience is younger and more diverse than your typical theater audience,” wrote Johnston in an email to Canyon News. “That is because we make theater accessible. For nearly 20% of our audience, this is the ONLY theater they attend. We believe that theater is not just for those who can afford ticket. Also, the experience is more relaxed and more appealing to a younger audience, particularly families who play with their kids in the park before the show, then settle in for a picnic and blankets to watch the performance.”

ISC is the 2018 recipient of the Paul Robeson Citation Award from Actors Equity Foundation and Actors Equity Union. The award honors individuals or organizations that best exemplify and practice the principles to which Robeson devoted his life: commitment to the freedom of expression and conscience, belief in the artist’s responsibility to society and respect for the individual and dedication and concern for service to all humankind.

Twelfth Night Synopsis

A cloud hangs over the country of Illyria as Countess Olivia mourns and Duke Orsino pines.
But when Viola (a young woman with a big secret) washes onshore, it soon becomes clear that you can’t keep the human spirit down for long.
Music, dance, and lovable misfits abound in one of the most beloved romantic comedies of all time, all set against the backdrop of the jazz era.

Pericles Synopsis

Love is lost and found again in one of Shakespeare’s most spellbinding plays.
The young Pericles sets out for adventure, but gets more than he bargains for. 25 years later, it’s his daughter’s turn to sail the high seas as she seeks to unravel the mystery of her birth.
Pericles is an epic tale, spanning continents and decades, complete with knights errant, greek gods, pirates…and more than a little magic.

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