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Arts and Entertainment

Why We Love L.A. Summers: Free Shakespeare In Griffith Park

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By Matthew Bramlett

Summer has arrived, and we're ready to celebrate all that screams 'tis the season in Los Angeles. From sand to summit, from sips to snacks -- we love L.A. summers.

The Independent Shakespeare Co., purveyor of free classical theatre performances, is back again this year for a series of exciting shows in sprawling Griffith Park.

This year, the theatre company will feature three of the legendary English playwright's works: She Stoops to Conquer, Macbeth, and As You Like It. The shows will run every weekend from July 27 to August 31 and are set to take place in the park's Old Zoo picnic area, which may be the perfect arena for these kinds of performances with its creepy and ethereal presence.

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From Thursday, June 27 to Sunday, June 30, ISC will perform She Stoops to Conquer, a comedic play by Irish author Oliver Goldsmith. Although the play is not by Shakespeare, it's a wonderful tale about status and wealth in 18th century England. The central figure in the play is Kate Hardcastle, the daughter of a wealthy landowner who must masquerade as an impoverished maid to win the affections of Charles Marlow, another wealthy Englishman who is intimidated by women of upper-class stature. If you happen to miss these performances this weekend, She Stoops to Conquer will also show Sunday, July 7; Thursday, July 11; Friday, July 12; Friday, July 19; and Friday, July 26.

Also in the upcoming repertoire this summer is Shakespeare's classic uber-tragedy Macbeth. The bleak play centers on the ambitious Lord Macbeth, who is told by a trio of witches that he will become King of Scotland. In response to this prophecy, he murders King Duncan and takes the throne himself, but paranoia and guilt envelop him as he commits more murders and other horrible acts to remain in power. Macbeth is set to be the most prolific play for the theatre company this summer and will be performed Friday, July 5; Saturday, July 6; Saturday, July 13; Thursday, July 18; Sunday, July 21; Thursday, July 25; Sunday, July 28; Sunday, August 4; Sunday, August 11; Thursday, August 15; Thursday, August 22; Sunday, August 25; Friday, August 30; and Sunday, August 31.

The third play in the lineup is Shakespeare's classic comedy As You Like It. One of the famed playwright's earlier comedies, it follows Rosalind as she flees her oppressive uncle's court with her friend Celia and court jester Touchstone to find love and happiness in the Court of Arden. The play will be performed August 1-3, August 8-10, August 16-18, August 23-24, August 29 and September 1.

In addition to the three plays, ISC will also host a number of other performances. One show to note comes from Invertigo Dance Theatre, who will perform their unique and interesting acts July 15-16, July 27-18 and August 10-11 before each performance of Macbeth.

Also in the game plan for the summer is Players in the Park, a free, family-friendly theater workshop that explores Shakespeare's vision and prose, complete with backstage tours and a chance to perform on the ISC stage. Workshops are scheduled for 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 20; Saturday, August 17; and Sunday, August 25. Reservations are recommended and can be made via email (cronk@iscla.org) or phone, (818) 710-6306.