New Swan Shakespeare Festival
It’s no secret the greatest box-office challenge to the English language’s most profound playwright and poet was not Shakespeare’s rival, Ben Johnson, nor Christopher Marlowe, but bear-baiting, by which some coward, no doubt in stretchy pants, teased some hapless animal into attacking him. The good news is, Shakespeare often came out on top because he didn’t write strictly for ivory tower chrome domes but for groundlings as well, the working stiffs who paid bare minimum to stand in front of the stage.
The good people at New Swan Shakespeare Festival are keenly aware of this group of proletarians long ignored by purveyors, pundits and connoisseurs. So, gather groundlings and chrome domes alike for the festival’s double bill of “The Merchant of Venice” (among the Bard’s greatest comedies) and “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” (among his earliest), performed by company pros mixing with students in the drama department at UC Irvine.
WHEN: July 3-Aug. 30
WHERE: UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts, 4004 Mesa Road, Irvine