California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Shakespeare picnics in Kingsmen Park

    Professional theatre transforms Kingsmen Park: Romeo and Juliet take the stage
    Professional theatre transforms Kingsmen Park: Romeo and Juliet take the stage
    Photo courtesy of Karin Grennan

    Not many things are as representative of the summer months as beach trips, barbecues, long days and warm nights. Unless you’re at CLU, in which case, the biggest summer highlight is the Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival.

    The professional Shakespeare company will be staging “Hamlet” and “The Tempest” this summer, two of the playwright’s most well-known tragedies. The event gives student and professional actors and crew the opportunity to build the productions from the ground up, which will then be performed for six consecutive weekends in Kingsmen Park.

    “Hamlet” follows the prince of Denmark as he struggles to balance life and love while avenging the death of his father. In “The Tempest,” the duke of Milan seeks to secure his daughter’s future by conjuring a great storm to lure in his brother and reveal his misgivings.

    Creative director and theater professor Michael Arndt says that Kingsmen Shakespeare gives student interns an opportunity to work with professionals in the field.

    “Students who are involved as interns have the rare opportunity to work with professionals who are working in theatre and film,” said Arndt. “The student actors are able to be on stage in a professional production, to learn in the rehearsal process by watching the professional actors practice their craft. The student technicians get to experience how professional technical theatre designers and craft people approach their areas while assisting them in the creative process.”

    Kingsmen Shakespeare began 17 years ago when students and faculty sought to put on a professional production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Kingsmen Park. Members of the surrounding community were in attendance, but the company’s reach now extends to the greater Southern California area. Arndt estimates that up to 9,000 people come to CLU for the plays over their six-week run.

    Sophomore William Cowles Meyer worked as an electrician and sound board operator for Kingsmen Shakespeare last summer and will be playing one of the spirits in “The Tempest” this year.

    “In Shakespeare’s plays, I have always enjoyed the spirits in his various shows. I think it is a really fun task as an actor to try to honestly play a creature that doesn’t exist. Something I love about Shakespeare is that all of his plays are still relevant today and can be done in so many ways. His plays are very versatile,” said Cowles Meyer.

    Senior Ashley Szanter will be acting as the deputy company manager for Kingsmen Shakespeare, helping actors and crew as box office manager for performances. To her, the complete experience of having a professional acting company that builds two entire productions over the course of the summer is both exciting and stressful.

    “Many on-campus productions take place in specific locations on campus. The Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival gives audiences a different perspective by building a full stage right in the middle of Kingsmen park. It also exposes its audience to Shakespeare,” said Szanter. “Many of the CLU productions work towards the skills of the actors we have at our school.

    Kingsmen brings in actors with various levels of experience that opens up the possibilities of what style of Shakespeare they are looking to create.”

    “The Tempest” runs from June 28 through 30, July 5 through 7 and July 12 through 14. “Hamlet” runs from July 19 through 21, July 26 through 28 and August 2 through 4. Performances are free for children 17 and under and general admission is $20. For more information, visit


    Christa Price
    Staff Writer
    Published May 8, 2013

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