Pat Launer, Center Stage on KSDS JAZZ88
December 5, 2014
The Old Globe is takin’ it to the streets. Well, maybe not the streets, but out of the theater box and into the community.
Renowned producer Joseph Papp created the Mobile Shakespeare program in 1957, and decades later, Globe artistic director Barry Edelstein re-animated Mobile Shakespeare while he was at The Public Theatre, bringing the Bard to underserved communities.
This fall, he tried out the concept in San Diego, with Globe for All, a free touring production of a Shakespeare play, brought to such varied venues as a military base, centers for the elderly, a homeless shelter and a correctional facility.
The 90-minute production featured a cast of 10 professional actors, including recent alumni of the Old Globe/University of San Diego graduate theater program. Each facility was offered a one-hour pre-show workshop about the language, themes, characters and plot of the play.
The intention, said Edelstein, is to “overcome whatever barriers – economic, geographical or cultural” prohibit some community members from seeing or appreciating Shakespeare. “Theater in general, and Shakespeare in particular, are necessary to living a full and rich life,” says Edelstein, who directed the project’s first production, “All’s Well That Ends Well.”
I saw the streamlined show at Father Joe’s Villages, San Diego’s largest residential service provider for the homeless. What was most impressive, besides the talent and commitment of the cast, was how well they interacted with the audience (dogs, infants and all), and how rapt most of the spectators seemed to be, catching all the humor and freely commenting on the action. It was a very exciting and energizing experience.
If the Globe can once again secure funding from local Foundations, it intends to repeat the process next year, with another play and director.
Here’s a toast to the Old Globe for helping to bring theater to every corner of our diverse county. Bravo!
The newly-launched Globe for All will, hopefully, be an ongoing, annual program of the Old Globe.
©2014 PAT LAUNER