I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Rob Salas, a MFA Directing Student at UC Irvine, about the Davis Shakespeare Ensemble that is run locally in Davis, CA and is preparing to put up their latest show, William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
When did you start Davis Shakespeare Ensemble?
Stephanie Hankinson, Gia Battista, and I came up with idea for the Davis Shakespeare Ensemble in March 2010. They were working on a show that was performing in the UC Davis Arboretum (Hair), and while there we all got inspired by the Arboretum’s Gazebo, thinking that it would be a great performing space. Then, over spring break we realized we had enough people excited about doing some Summer work, and so we put together our first show, Romeo and Juliet.
How many shows have you done?
Two. Romeo and Juliet was our first show, and Twelfth Night will be our second.
Where do you perform and rehearse your productions?
We hope to consistently rehearse and perform in the UC Davis Arboretum, our primary space being the Gazebo. We find that it is a very inspiring space to create our art, and we try to incorporate its energy and architecture into our concept and design.
Are you an exclusive group or do you hold outside auditions and welcome participation from other artists?
At this moment, we have a core group of ensemble actors from which we cast. However, next year, we will most likely be opening up our auditions to the community as we try to round out a more full season. As far as having other artists participate, we are very interested in collaborating with other artists. Twelfth Night features an original score composed by a very talented musician and UC Davis alumnus, Richard Chowenhill, as well as costumes designed by Caitlin Cisek, a designer out of New York who has worked in the Bay Area. In our future projects, we will continue to seek out other talented artists to join our team.
Tell me about the show you are currently working on?
Twelfth Night is the show we are currently working on. I believe it to one of Shakespeare’s best comedies on its own, so it has definitely been a very fun project. But one thing people sometimes forget about Twelfth Night is that it is also his most musical play. And the music helps tell the story and guide the comedy. Everyone that wants to hear some beautiful music and have some great laughs should come see this piece.
Who do you think your best audience for this show would be?
Anyone and everyone. I firmly believe Shakespeare is universal. He wrote for all classes, ages, and types of people – and I believe that carries over today. There’s definitely a kind of stigma for some people when they think of Shakespeare, but I would beg those people to come and try out a DSE show; I believe our positive attitude and joy for the material carries over to a good theatrical experience for all.
Where can we find information on your show and tickets?
Davis Shakespeare Ensemble has a website in the works at www.shakespearedavis.com, but as of now our information can be found on the Arboretum Website: arboretum.ucdavis.edu. We also have a Facebook page that people can join.
What are your upcoming plans for the Ensemble?
Next up, we will be putting together a piece that uses Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Then, we have been hired to work with schools in the area to teach workshops about Romeo and Juliet. After that, we are organizing a Shakespeare Summer Camp in August, which leads into our full production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in September. At that point we will be announcing our season for next year, which promises to be even more exciting!
The show runs Thursday through Sunday January 13th-16th and 20th-23rd at the UC Davis Arboretum Gazebo on Garrod off of La Rue. The shows are at 8PM. Sundays include a matinee performance at 2PM. The tickets are $8 for students, $12 for adults and $5 for children twelve and under.
The Davis Shakespeare Ensemble —