A 15-ton mini-Elizabethan theatre constructed by UC Irvine students and professionals is returning to the campus for the Claire Trevor School of the Arts’ first annual Shakespeare in the Park.
"I thought this is a project of a lifetime and it's really going to help out our program," said production manager Keith Bang. "It’s going to bring what we do on the other side of campus to the central part of campus and bring art to the great masses of students."
The New Swan Theatre was tested in a January production of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” and then placed in storage, according to Lesly Martin, director of marketing.
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“It was built with the thought that it would become the outdoor theater for our summer Shakespeare festival,” said Martin.
More than 30,000 pounds of theatre -- including 15, 1-ton pieces -- will be moved and reconstructed for the event using a 12-person crew and a team of heavy-duty equipment, saidBangs.
The New Swan Shakespeare Festivals runs from Aug. 9 to Aug. 26.
The theatre will present Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” and it will remount its January production of “The Merchant of Venice” starring drama department and equity actors – including renowned artists.
Equity actor Richard Brestoff – professor of drama and associate head of acting – played Shylock in the School of the Arts’ winter production of “The Merchant of Venice.”
Brestoff was nominated for a Falstaff 2011 Best Male Principal Performance award for his role in the play. Actor Kevin Spacey was also nominated in the same category.
“It was great to be in prestigious company,” said Brestoff.
Come August, Brestoff will take the stage in the 125-seat theatre that sets itself apart from similar venues, said Eli Simon, chair of the drama department and artistic director.
“The intimacy and the bond that’s forged between the audience and the actors distinguishes this theater from others,” said Simon.
The hope is that the School of the Arts will continue the production annually and that the festival will garner national exposure, said Martin.
“A lot of successful summer Shakespeare festivals have started on college campuses,” said Martin.