SEASON PASSHOLDER EXCLUSIVE!
We asked the cast of A Midsummer Night's Dream to share with you how they first came to us, and what it means for them to be a part of the ISC Family.
Jose Acain (Puck/Theseus)
My first interaction with ISC was as an audience member during the Taming of the Shrew at the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival. I remember sitting on the lawn after the show ended, looking at the tremendous amount of people from all walks of life, and thinking, “This is something special.” The following season, after being convinced by my wife to audition, I had the wonderful privilege of joining the company to perform Much Ado About Nothing. To this day, it still seems so unreal to walk into a rehearsal and be surrounded by such a talented group of people who I admire, look up to, and learn from. I’m proud to be part of a company that represents the diversity of its community and enables that community to see shows they would otherwise not have access to. This particular production is extremely special to me because Puck has always been a character I’ve identified with but I’ve never seen a production where I’ve identified with the actor that played him. I’m glad I’m able to have that opportunity and so very thankful to ISC.
Sam Breen (Oberon)
Three summers ago, my wife Kalean Ung, played the part of Viola in I.S.C.'s production of Twelfth Night. On opening night I watched her walk on stage and address the crowd of 3000 Angelinos. I remember being completely terrified for her, an audience that size is pretty unheard of anywhere else in the country, but she didn't seem to bat an eye! As she spoke, the loud voices around me hushed, the picnics were tucked away and the young children's attentions were all drawn to the action. You could hear a pin drop. I'd never witnessed anything like it before. That night, surrounded by a wonderful team of artists, I witnessed Kalean take flight. Shortly afterwards, I was lucky enough to join the ISC family and take in some of the magic myself. There isn't anything else quite like it!
April Fritz (Hermia/Flute)
This summer I was fortunate enough to participate in my first season with ISC in Griffith Park. After two shows filled with many new friendships, lots of sweat, and some tears, I can confidently say I have found my artistic home. But more importantly I discovered a community of patrons and artists who wholeheartedly believe in the power and necessity of free theater for Los Angeles. To bring Shakespeare to children and teenagers who are experiencing it for the first time is invaluable to me. Talking with them after performances and seeing what an impact we've made is both surprising and humbling. I feel blessed to be asked back for A Midsummer Night's Dream and could not be more thrilled to collaborate again with such astoundingly talented, caring, and compassionate artists.
Faqir Hassan (Egeus/Bottom)
From Shakespeare, to Molière, to the Actor’s Studio the most lasting theater was created by Company. Why? Because failure is a necessity in the creation of meaningful Theater. The actor in the Independent Shakespeare Company is given two things; freedom and a net. The net is a mesh made up of the collective history of every member’s work. It is their diligence that has woven this net. This net binds, it is a common language and bond. This net affords each member, regardless of background, freedom. Freedom to work on technique, to fail, to laugh and give it another go. It is the collective, the Company, that is ISC’s greatest strength. This is my fourth ISC production and these two gifts have been ever present. I am grateful for the opportunity to strengthen this net. For it is enabling great failures. Failures that lead to great success.
My summer this year was my kickoff with ISC. I got to work on Richard III and The Tempest; what an adventure! Acting at ISC, means I have a space and a place to play, I get to laugh so hard all the time, and I learn something I didn't know every day. I'm so glad to be a part of a company that brings great works to life and brings the community together to share!
Martha T. Newman (Hippolita/Peaseblossom)
I grew up in Los Angeles and remember the ISC from their days in Barnsdall Art Park. This is my first play with the ISC and I am excited and grateful to be a part of the production and the ISC community.
Evan Lewis Smith (Lysander/Snug)
The first time I got involved with ISC was the summer after I graduated from grad school. I had auditioned for the summer festival but ended up not being able to do it because of another production. Some six months later I get an email from the Artistic Director, Melissa Chalsma, asking if I wanted to come audition for their studio production of Romeo and Juliet. I got to play Tybalt and Friar Lawrence. From day one ISC was so welcoming and nurturing for me. It always feels like an artistic home away from home where I am fully able to explore and create. Also being part of such a diverse group of very giving artist is so rewarding. Such generosity in the ensemble makes the rehearsal process a lot more of a safe place, which makes creativity easier to come by.
Erwin Tuazon (Demetrius/Peter Quince)
I auditioned for ISC in 2007 where I met Joe Culliton at an open call for Richard II and A Midsummer Night's Dream. I was nervous of course, but was surprised at how comfortable I felt working with Joe at the audition and then Melissa at the callback. They let me know a few weeks later that I'd be playing Aumerle in Richard II and if I had the availability, an ensemble role in A Midsummer Night's Dream. While I could only do Richard II that summer, it started a journey with ISC that has been going on for nearly 10 years. I've met long-lasting friends and have had the opportunity to play a wide variety of roles that I never thought I would have the chance to perform. I greatly appreciate ISC's goal of diversity, not only with the performers, but with the audiences the company chooses to impact, which is in essence, everyone. Not just the ones who can afford to take their families out for a night of entertainment and culture, but for those who may not be in the position to do so. Who may not even know about Shakespeare, or even seen a live theater show. ISC brings everyone together.
Kalean Ung (Titania)
I auditioned for ISC co-founders Melissa and David when I was still in grad school, but it wasn't until 2014 when I officially joined forces with ISC and played Viola in Twelfth Night. Earlier that year I turned to (my now husband) Sam and said, "It is time for me to do some Shakespeare, I'm putting it out into the universe." One week later Melissa emailed me and asked if I was available and interested in reading for Viola (DUH, MELISSA). The universe received my request and I am very thankful. ISC has become a very special part of my life. I stand by Melissa and David in their vision in creating theatre in Los Angeles that is diverse and that believes that classical theatre and Shakespeare belong to everyone. Performing Shakespeare for thousands of Angelenos every year has been such a life-changing experience. I have never been a part of a theater company in which I truly feel like I am part of my community.