Dek: Encinitas’ first resident professional theater company has a winning gameplan
When you call yourself Intrepid, you have to be willing to go out on a limb. But finding a home for the professional theater company – Encinitas’ first – was less a risk than a matter of kismet.
Christy Yael and Sean Cox, business and personal partners, co-founders of Intrepid Shakespeare Company, make their home in Encinitas. They’ve been looking for a way to produce their shows in their neighborhood since they launched the company in 2009. Then they met Encinitas Mayor Dan Dalager and Arts Administrator Jim Gilliam. They heard about the new theater space being built at San Dieguito Academy, and met the Principal, Michael Grove. Right time, right place, right people. It all came together amazingly fast.
Intrepid is focused on Shakespeare, has an ambitious educational program, and was interested in offering high school student internships; so it was a perfect fit. The Academy’s 120-seat black box theater is an ideal space for their imaginative productions, which make Shakespeare intimate, accessible, affordable – and brief. And the Academy’s new Performing Arts Center, scheduled for completion next summer, is also a flexible space that seats 225 and an outdoor amphitheater that will accommodate 500. The stunning design was created by the same architects the La Jolla Playhouse engaged for the Potiker Theatre.
There’s a serendipitous string of relationships at play. When Cox grew up in Rancho Bernardo, his drama teacher, Michael Ball, was a major influence, “a huge fan of Shakespeare in small, intimate spaces,” says Cox. “He pushed me to enter the English Language Union’s Student Shakespeare Competition, pushed me to attend Conservatory (the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria), and encouraged me to take a look at ‘King John.’”
Cox did everything he was told. And last spring, he and Yael mounted a magnificent production of the under-valued, rarely-seen “King John,” Intrepid’s best work so far. Cox’s former drama teacher came to see the show and revealed that he had attended San Dieguito Academy (then San Dieguito High School), where his influential drama teacher was Clayton E. Liggett, the late instructor for whom the new theater will be named. Clearly, the torch is being passed.
Cox and Yael are anxious to develop the next generation of theatermakers and Shakespeare lovers. Their internship program is unique. Whether onstage or behind the scenes, Academy students work alongside theater professionals — actors or designers — to learn the real-life, technical side of the art.
The Company’s education program includes a school tour featuring one-hour versions of Shakespeare plays, and the popular Day of Shakespeare, comprising a dozen in-school interactive workshops.
Intrepid’s inaugural production in Encinitas was a modernized “Romeo and Juliet,” which ran in early October and included four SDA student actors and 11 tech interns. The experiment was such a success that the Academy will employ Intrepid’s set and technical director.
“We’re beyond thrilled,” crows Yael. “We love Encinitas. It’s warm, supportive, inter-generational, arts-friendly.”
“It was all timing,” adds Cox. And as they say in theater, Timing is everything.
Next up for Intrepid Shakespeare Theatre is its Free Will series of free public readings of Shakespeare plays, and “The Crucible,” by Arthur Miller, a co-production with Moxie Theatre, staged in that troupe’s Rolando space (near SDSU), October 30-December 5.
For further information, go to www.intrepidshakespeare.com