Shakespeare: Speaking to many generations

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The Shakespeare by the Sea troupe will perform "Othello," starring Alem Brhan and Aubrey Saverino, on Aug. 10 at Point Dume Elementary School. Photo by Elizabeth Braslow

In an attempt to create family events for Malibu this summer, Malibu Parks and Recreation has created Shakespeare in the Park-an outdoor event offering a series of four Shakespearean performances at Point Dume Elementary. The event, which is free to the public, began on July 20 and will end on Aug. 28.

By Kevin Connelly/ Special to The Malibu Times

The CineMalibu program offered by the city screening films outdoors at Bluffs Park has a sister event with the same intention-to give residents and families options for entertainment in Malibu.

Shakespeare in the Park offers free live performances of the infamous theater bard’s work at Point Dume Elementary School throughout this month.

Malibu Parks and Recreation Supervisor Theresa Odello, who attended the first of four performances herself-“The Merry Wives of Windsor” – said she is pleased the way Shakespeare in the Park is turning out thus far.

“I talked to people [at the first performance] and they seemed to really enjoy it,” Odello said. “It’s great because it gives families a chance to be outside together at night.”

Although she estimated the crowd at the first performance at a relatively modest 75 people, Odello said she believed attendance would increase with each performance as word-of-mouth around Malibu helped promote the event.

“Shakespeare speaks to many different generations,” Odello said. “The messages are very clear in Shakespeare. Shakespeare is about enjoying vocabulary and it rewards an intense active listening. These [performances] are positive experiences for the audience.”

Odello, who is leaving her job at Malibu Parks and Recreation after more than four years to pursue a degree in recreation at Old Dominion University in Virginia, said she hopes Shakespeare in the Park continues in Malibu for years to come.

The second Shakespeare in the Park performance will take place this week on Aug. 10, when the Shakespeare by the Sea troupe will present “Othello.” Following this performance, the Independent Players troupe will present “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on Aug. 27 and 28. The pre-show for “Othello” begins at 6:30 p.m., with a 7 p.m. curtain. Both “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Those attending the event are encouraged to bring beach chairs and picnic blankets for seating as well as layered clothing.

Lisa Coffi, producer and artistic director of Shakespeare by the Sea, encouraged residents of Malibu to watch the troupe perform for free at Point Dume Elementary’s three-acre park.

“[Our performances] cater to the young and the old alike because Shakespeare is written for ‘Everyman,'” she said. “[Shakespeare by the Sea] is a lighthearted, grassroots organization that knows how to tell a story well.”

July 20 marked the first time Shakespeare by the Sea has ever performed in Malibu and Coffi called the experience “fantastic,” although she hopes to double or triple the audience for the troupe’s Aug. 10 performance of “Othello.” Coffi said the Shakespeare by the Sea troupe includes 23 actors, who performed before more than 14,000 people last summer. The troupe was founded in 1998.

A complete schedule for this summer’s Shakespeare by the Sea performances as well as more information on the troupe can be found at www.shakespearebythesea.org. Also, information on the Independent Players troupe can be found at www.independentplayers.com. More information regarding Shakespeare in the Park can be obtained by calling Malibu Parks and Recreation at 310.317.1364.