American Coast Theater Company, the resident professional theater of Vanguard University, will perform its 2016 Summer Series, beginning June 3. The two plays, Hamlet and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead will be performed in repertory, in the Lyceum Theater on Vanguard’s Costa Mesa campus.
The legendary Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, will be directed by Jeremy Aluma, award-winning theatre director and producer, and founder of the internationally touring clown troupe, Four Clowns. Aluma’s credits include productions at South Coast Repertory, and La MaMa Theater Off-Broadway NYC, among others. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, was written by the knighted British playwright and screenwriter, Tom Stoppard, and will be directed by Christi McHale, associate producing director for American Coast Theater Company (ACTC).
“I plan to use the audience as a more involved participant in the play, using them like another character,” said Aluma. “I also want them to have some kind of relationship to the ghosts and death in the play. Life is precious and Hamlet’s hesitancy to kill his uncle is not cowardice; it is his understanding that life is important, which leads us to think about what life is worth.”
The show’s actors will be playing the same roles in both productions, yet the audience will get to see them from two different points of view; one play using more drama, the other using more comedy, but unified by related themes, questions, and tragedy. In one half of the experience, audiences will hear Shakespeare’s classic verse—through the other, Stoppard’s witty and philosophical modern banter juxtaposed with physical comedy. The clever way these two shows intertwine will be highlighted by the opposing styles of character and commentary. The two productions will also be sharing an overall unified aesthetic and design, with scenic elements woven throughout both shows.
“We will be physicalizing the idea of man as a puppet through the action on stage and the design, in a way that we cannot wait to share with audiences,” said McHale. “It’s a wonderfully collaborative process with the actors and whole design team; the device of actors performing a play within a play gives us so much room for creativity and theatricality.”
The cast for Hamlet and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead includes company members Susan Berkompas (founding artistic producing director), James McHale (associate artistic director, All My Sons), and Paul Eggington (founding member, All My Sons), returning ACTC artists Amanda Zarr (Always A Bridesmaid), and Brock Milhorn (A Winter Wonderland). The cast also includes many artists making their ACTC debut, including Ian Jenkins, Ahmed Brooks, Katie Canavan, Tyler Thoreson, Aaron McGee, Taylor Stephenson (She Loves Me at Chance Theater), Andrew Puente (Dogfight at Chance Theater), Jason Evans (Samsara at Chance Theater), and Lola Kelly (Miss Julie at SCR, and The Grinder on FOX).
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead runs June 3, 4, 18, 25, July 3 at 7:30 p.m; and June 5, 11, 19, 26, July 2 at 2 p.m. Hamlet runs June 10, 11, 17, 19, 24, 26, July 1, 2 at 7:30 p.m.; and June 12, 18, 25, July 3 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $19 general admission, $15 for seniors and groups. For more information on the American Coast Theater’s Summer 2016 Series, or to purchase show tickets, visit www.ACTCtickets.com.