Welcome to The Tempest

The Tempest – a fitting show for this whirling dervish of a cast! Although this is the official stage debut for some of our performers, they have proven themselves worthy of one of The Bard’s most enduring and meaningful plays. 

Using the key word: IMAGINATION – this charismatic crew cooperated and collaborated to conjure the concept for our creative carnival. They’ve chosen to tell the tale from their own perspective, as children playing pretend on a playground coming together to act out a forbidden fable. 

Thank you so much for supporting our ensemble in this epic adventure. Now sit back, relax, and let yourself become a kid again as you enjoy William Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST.

But before you turn your phone off, we encourage you to click here to read a synopsis of the story.

Dramatis Personae

(In order of appearance)

Alonso … Ondine Taylor, 13 

Boatswain … Anchor Dillard, 7 

Gonzalo … David E. Landaverde-Chávez 13

Ferdinand … Cassia Dillard, 9 

Sebastian … Cooper Vidal, 10 

Antonia … Lauren Villegas, 9

Miranda … Maribelle Martin, 10

Prospero … Cyril (Vi) Rodriguez, 13

Ariel … Zoë Zerkel, 14

Trinculo … LydiaJane Dillard, 11

Stephano … Elsie Cannon, 14

Caliban … Anchor Dillard, 7

Iris … LydiaJane Dillard

Ceres … Ondine Taylor

Juno … Elsie Cannon

The Tempest Production Team

J. Bailey Burcham, director
Alessandra Mañon, director
Ace Rosenthal, artistic associate

Shakespeare Youth Festival

Julia Walker Wyson, Artistic Director
J. Bailey Burcham, Executive Director

THE TEMPEST – Synopsis

The Tempest opens with a storm … a “tempest,” you might say! The King of Naples and several of his attendants are on a boat, and that things are going so badly there’s not much to do but pray. Cut to dry land and to Prospero, chatting with her daughter Miranda. Prospero was the source of the magic that caused the storm that sank this boat, but she had good reason, and nobody was hurt in spite of all the mayhem.

She tells Miranda that she used to be Duke of Milan until her sister, Antonio, betrayed her and deposed her (with the consent of King Alonso) while Prospero was busy learning magic in her library. After all the usurping, Prospero and three-year-old Miranda were shuttled out to the ocean in a wreck of a boat. They ended up on this island, where they’ve lived for twelve years. Prospero thinks the time is right for action and revenge.

Prospero has two servants: Ariel, a delicate and airy spirit who was imprisoned in a tree by Sycorax, a witch, for not being nasty enough, and Caliban, son of Sycorax (Backstory: When Prospero landed on the island, she got rid of Sycorax, freed Ariel from the tree, and made Caliban her servant.)

After the shipwreck, Alonso, Antonio, Sebastian, and Gonzalo, an honest Lord who aided Prospero and Miranda, are scattered about the island. Alonso fears he lost his son, Prince Ferdinand, in the storm. Gonzalo is doing his best to cheer up the King, but to no avail, so the shipwrecked group set off to find him. Antonio and Sebastian, thinking Prince Ferdinand is dead, are plotting to murder Alonso so Sebastian can be king.

Meanwhile, the not-so-lost Prince is alive and convinced that his dad is dead. He’s distracted from his grief when he meets Miranda, and instantly falls in love. This is exactly what Prospero wants, but he uses a little reverse psychology on the couple, and accuses Ferdinand of being a traitor, putting him to the task of carrying wood. Ferdinand is happy to do this because his newfound love for Miranda makes work seem easy. Supposedly behind Prospero’s back, the couple declare their love, and promise to marry.

Back with the royal search party, everyone is exhausted and giving up hope, when a magical banquet appears. Amazed, at first, the hungry crew decides to eat, when Ariel, disguised as a harpy, appears, and says that the sea took Prince Ferdinand in exchange for the wrong Alonso committed against Prospero many years ago, and points out that there are other traitors – Antonio and Sebastian. Alonso repents. Antonio and Sebastian do not.

Meanwhile, Caliban encounters the King’s drunken butler, Stefano, and jester, Trinculo (also drunk), and they plot to murder Prospero so they can rule the island. Caliban (very drunk) pledges to be Stefano’s slave and swears allegiance, kissing Stephano’s feet. The drunken schemers are led off by Ariel playing music and set off to murder Prospero. They make their way to Prospero’s cave where they find all sorts of fine, rich clothing, and get totally distracted from their evil plot. Prospero sets hounds upon them, and the would-be-murderers run off.

At last, Prospero brings all these groups together, and joyfully reunites with Gonzalo, her true friend. Alonso apologizes to Prospero and returns her dukedom. Alonso and Ferdinand are reunited, and he is delighted to meet Miranda, his son’s new fiance. Prospero announced that she plans to retire to her dukedom in peace, and she sets Ariel free. She relinquishes his magic, and asks the audience to set her free.

Welcome to Richard II

Shakespeare’s Richard II is a monumental piece of theatre. Often considered one of the most eloquently written of his Histories, the play represents a momentous struggle in English history, the struggle between King Richard II and his cousin Henry Bolingbroke (Henry IV). A story of security and insecurity – of friendship, gained and lost. Who better to tell this story than this highly passionate group of teenagers? We are profoundly proud to be presenting our first ever production of THE TRAGEDY OF RICHARD II – A difficult and beautiful poem that reflects us all. 

Our Players are taking on the challenge of telling this story. What can you do to support them? While you are in the performance space, please keep your phone off and give them your full attention.

But before you turn your phone off, we encourage you to click here to read a synopsis of the story

Dramatis Personae



QUEEN OF ENGLAND, his wife … Zoe O’Brien

DUKE OF AUMERLE, his confidante … Ace Rosenthal

DUKE OF YORK, his uncle … Addison Templeton

DUCHESS OF YORK, his aunt … Dylan Macer


SIR JOHN BUSHY … Pierra Rozen-Nowac


SIR HENRY GREEN … Ace Rosenthal


BISHOP OF CARLISLE … Hirshl Isaiah Hickman


LORD THOMAS DE BERKELEY … Hirshl Isaiah Hickman



HEREFORD, later KING HENRY IV … Apollo Manfredi 

JOHN OF GAUNT … Hirshl Isaiah Hickman







THOMAS MOWBRAY, Duke of Norfolk … Dylan Macer

TWO HERALDS … Addison Templeton & Raphael Potruch

SERVANT TO YORK … Charlie Shagoury


TWO GARDENERS … Ace Rosenthal & Raphael Potruch



Richard II Production Team

Julia Walker Wyson, director
J. Bailey Burcham, director
Alessandra Mañon, director

Milo Koyfman, Script Editor
J. Bailey Burcham, Technical Assistance

Special Thanks to 

Our seniors, Addison Templeton and Raphael Potruch! Addie, we thank you for sharing your gifts with us over the years, and Raph, we are delighted that you joined our troupe this year! We wish you both the very best in your next act!

Shakespeare Youth Festival

Julia Walker Wyson, Artistic Director
J. Bailey Burcham, Executive Director

RICHARD II – Synopsis

We begin in King Richard’s court, as Henry Bolingbroke, son of Gaunt (the Duke of Lancaster), accuses Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk of being involved in the recent death of the King’s uncle (who is also Henry’s uncle; Henry and the King are cousins). They demand to work out their differences in one-on-one combat at Coventry, and Richard gives in.

As the tournament begins, the uncertain and impulsive Richard stops the contest, choosing instead to exile both Henry and Mowbray. He banishes Mowbray for life, but when John of Gaunt, Henry’s father, begs, he limits Henry’s exile to six years (which doesn’t do Gaunt much good, as he figures he doesn’t have six years left. 

Unfortunately, Richard allows his friends, including his bestie, Lord Aumerle (son of the Duke of York), to influence him in his governing, and let’s just say that they don’t do much to curb his worst impulses. When they receive word that John of Gaunt is dying, they race to his deathbed, where Gaunt tells Richard exactly what he thinks of him, then dies. Immediately, Richard takes possession of Gaunt’s land and money. It turns out that he has also been leasing out royal land to fund wars with Ireland. The Duke of York is not happy. He desperately wants to be loyal to the king, but Richard is making it very difficult!

Meanwhile, Richard’s Queen is experiencing some high anxiety, despite the best attempts of the King’s friends, Busy and Bagot, to cheer her up. She receives word that Bolingbroke is returning to claim his rightful inheritance. 

That’s right! When Henry hears that his father has died and that Richard took his inheritance, he returns from exile with an invading army. The commoners and nobles are already critical of Richard, so they welcome Henry in the north, led by the powerful Earl of Northumberland, Henry Percy. Henry marches through England, gathering his willing forces. 

Richard arrives back after his Irish war to find that not only have his Welsh allies dispersed, but his cousin, Duke of York, unable to prevent Henry’s triumphant return, has joined him instead. Several more of Richard’s friends have also betrayed the King’s cause. Others have been executed on Henry’s orders. Things are looking pretty hopeless, and after taking refuge at Flint castle, Richard surrenders and agrees to go to London, where the lords will decide what should happen next. 

In view of the insurrections against him, King Richard is persuaded to step down in favour of Henry Bolingbroke, now King Henry IV. Richard hands over his crown in a ceremony. Henry imprisons Richard in Pontefract Castle, and Richard’s queen is sent home to France. 

There are a few plots against Henry, including one that Aumerle is a part of, and when York discovers this, they both race to Henry, along with the Duchess of York, who begs for her son’s life. Henry spares Aumerle, but he is now aware of his tenuous position as king, and implies that he would like to be rid of his threats. Aumerle, to regain his trust, goes against his feelings, and murders Richard. He brings the body to London. Henry claims innocence, blaming Aumerle for misunderstanding his intentions. The play ends as King Henry banishes Aumerle, orders a funeral for Richard, and swears to make reparation for his cousin’s death by going on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

This handy graphic can be very helpful in navigating all the personalities!!

Welcome to Julius Caesar

A question that was discussed frequently during our rehearsal process was “Who is the villain?” Our conclusion: we’re not sure! Productions of Julius Caesar often seek to make a certain type of political statement, and indeed, one recent production cast an actor who resembled Obama in the title role, while another used an actor who resembled Trump. We all agreed that we did not want to take that route. Trying to tie Cassius, Brutus, Antony, or Caesar to a particular belief system, political party, or public figure would only lead our audience to, perhaps, assume that they know whose side they should be on – it’s so much more interesting to live in the ambiguity. 

For us, one of the most interesting and important “characters” was the crowd AKA The Citizens. It’s fascinating to see how quickly and easily they switch their loyalties. Listen carefully to the funeral speeches of Brutus and Marc Antony – whose side would you be on? 

The play opens as The Citizens celebrate the Feast of Lupercal. We discovered that the current celebration of Mardi Gras has its roots in the ancient festival. You might notice a few nods to that connection in our staging!! 

Our Players are taking on the monumental challenge of telling this story. What can you do to support them? While you are in the performance space, please keep your phone off and give them your full attention.

But before you turn your phone off, we encourage you to click here to read a synopsis of the story

Dramatis Personae

In Order of Appearance

Flavius, a tribune … Dash Kirkley, 12

Marullus, another tribune … Katya Pontell, 14

A Carpenter … Harrison Washburn, 10

A Cobbler … Teddy Lukas, 12

Julius Caesar, a general … Simon Manfredi, 11

Casca, a Conspirator … Arrow Hudson, 13

Calpurnia, wife to Caesar … Pierra Rozen-Nowac, 13

Marc Antony … Alexander Gumpert, 12

A Soothsayer … Harrison Washburn

Brutus, friend to Caesar … Kairo Pontell, 12

Cassius, a general … Hannah Gumpert, 14

Decius Brutus, a conspirator … Veronica Sefrioui, 13

Cicero, a Senator … Pierra Rozen-Nowac

Cinna, a conspirator … Dash Kirkley

Lucius, Servant to Brutus … Harrison Washburn

Metellus Cimber, a conspirator … Katya Pontell

Trebonius, a conspirator … Teddy Lukas

Another Conspirator … Pierra Rozen-Nowac 

Portia, wife to Brutus … Veronica Sefrioui

Servant to Caesar … Katya Pontell

Artemidorus, devotee to Caesar … Pierra Rozen-Nowac

Servant to Antony … Pierra Rozen-Nowac

Servant to Octavius Caesar … Katya Pontell

The Citizens … The Ensemble

Cinna, the Poet … Arrow Hudson

Octavius Caesar, successor … Pierra Rozen-Nowac

Lepidus, one of the Triumvirate … Simon Manfredi

Clitus, aide to soldier … Katya Pontell

Claude, the Poet … Arrow Hudson

Titinius, a soldier … Dash Kirkley

Messala, friend to Brutus … Veronica Sefrioui

Pindarus, bondsman to … Cassius Arrow Hudson

Cato, a soldier … Arrow Hudson

Dardanius, servant to Brutus … Teddy Lukas

Strato, friend to Brutus … Simon Manfredi

Julius Caesar Production Team

Julia Walker Wyson, director
Kila Packett, director

Addison Templeton, Artistic Associate
J. Bailey Burcham, Technical Assistance

Special Thanks to 

Zissy Rozen @zissyspaine – Prop Design

And to the Parents of our Players for their invaluable support and encouragement throughout the process

Shakespeare Youth Festival

Julia Walker Wyson, Artistic Director
J. Bailey Burcham, Executive Director


As the play opens, enthusiastic citizens are celebrating the return of the heroic Julius Caesar, a general who is returning to Rome after being victorious in multiple foreign wars. A Soothsayer emerges from the crowd to warn Caesar to “beware the Ides of March.” At the celebration, the citizens, through Caesar’s dear friend Mark Antony, offer Caesar the crown, but he refuses … three times.

Cassius, a fellow general, is envious of the popularity Caesar seems to enjoy, and by the idea that he might gain absolute power. His friend Brutus is a supporter of the Republic who believes strongly in a government guided by the votes of senators. While he, too, is a friend of Caesar’s, his fear of one person gaining too much power makes him vulnerable to Cassius’s maneuverings to convince him to join in the plot to bring down Caesar before he can gain too much power.

That night, a tormented Brutus debates with himself whether to join the conspiracy. His fear that Rome may lose its freedom wins out over his admiration for Caesar, and, after a late-night visit by a group of conspirators, including Cassius, he agrees own in the plot to assassinate Caesar the next day. He’s been so caught up in his plight that his loyal wife Portia confronts him and demands to know what has been preoccupying him.

The next morning is March 15, the Ides of March, and Calphurnia, Caesar’s wife, recounts her frightful dreams and insists that her husband to avoid danger and stay home from the senate that day. At first, Caesar fears that he will appear frightened or ignoble by staying home, and just as it seems that he will give in, the conspirators, acting as friends and supporters, show up, and convince him to come to the Capitol.

In the capitol, the conspirators surround Caesar on the pretext of discussing business with him—and each, in turn, stabs him. Seeing Brutus’s thrust, Caesar exclaims “et tu, Brute” (you too, Brutus) and dies. Mark Antony, Caesar’s friend, confronts the conspirators; and they seem to convince him that their actions were right, and they agree that Antony may speak at the funeral, as long as he does not condemn the conspirators.

A crowd gathers to mourn their beloved Caesar, but Brutus speaks first at the funeral and says that love of Rome alone made the murder necessary. The crowd seems to be swayed to his opinion, but then Antony follows, praising Caesar, while calling Brutus and the conspirators “honorable men.” He masterfully manipulates the crowd, without placing any blame on the conspirators, and moments after the crowd cheered Brutus as their deliverer, they turn on a dime, and are inflamed with rage and the desire for revenge on Caesar’s murderers. Indeed things become so chaotic that a poet named Cinna, who had nothing to do with Caesar’s death, is killed by the mob just because his name is the same as one of the conspirators.

In Rome, Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus, the ruling triumvirate formed after Caesar’s death, gather to plot revenge and organize a military force to fight the armies of Brutus and Cassius. The opposing armies gather on the battlefield of Phillipi.

Meanwhile, the relationship between Cassius and Brutus has deteriorated, and they quarrel. After the argument is settled, Brutus reveals to Cassius that his wife, Portia, has committed suicide. Later that night, unable to sleep, Brutus is stunned to see Caesar’s ghost, who warns that he will meet him again at the battlefield of Philippi.

That morning the armies meet and as the forces of the triumvirate appear to be winning, Cassius, unwilling to endure defeat, asks his bondsman Pindarus to stab him. After several other key players on his side, Brutus is devastated by the dishonor he feels, and he, too, asks one of his soldiers to stab him. Antony vows to give Brutus the funeral of a noble Roman and calls him “the noblest Roman of them all,” since he was the only conspirator whose motive was not envy of the powerful Caesar.



Hell is empty and all the devils are here!!

This week, we’ll be delving into the intriguing world of Shakespearean villains. This unique exploration of the darker characters in Shakespearean plays provides children with an opportunity to delve into the complexities of these infamous figures and the moral dilemmas they present. Fictional villains have the power to captivate children, drawing them into the narrative, world, and characters of a story. Through games, scene work, group choral work, etc, our Players will be developing creativity, critical thinking, and a deeper appreciation for the complexities of human nature as portrayed in literature and drama.

Our villains may include:

  • Iago from Othello
  • Lady Macbeth from Macbeth
  • Richard III from Richard III
  • Claudius from Hamlet
  • Aaron the Moor from Titus Andronicus
  • Tamora from Titus Andronicus
  • Macbeth from Macbeth
  • The Queen from Cymbeline
  • Angelo from Measure for Measure
  • Regan from King Lear
  • and more!!

GRADES 2 through 8 (Fall 2024)

July 8 – 12
Monday through Friday – 10 am to 3 pm

Pay what you can.
We believe that every child who is drawn to this work should be able to participate. If you are able to pay something, your contribution will help us reach more children!



Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!!” 

What makes a hero? And where do we find them in Shakespeare’s plays? We’ll explore the comic heroes, the tragic heroes, and the accidental heroes, and we’ll dig into the plays to find the less-celebrated characters who commit acts of courage, compassion, and selflessness. Through theater games, scene work, and group choral work, this week will offer a unique opportunity for children to immerse themselves in timeless literature, develop critical thinking skills, and appreciate the enduring relevance of Shakespeare’s works in today’s world.

Our plays may include:

  • Henry V from Henry V
  • Paulina from The Winter’s Tale
  • Kent and Cordelia from King Lear
  • Arviragus and Guiderius in Cymbeline
  • Lucius in Titus Andronicus
  • Isabella in Measure for Measure
  • Dogberry from Much Ado about Nothing
  • and many more!!

GRADES 2 through 8 (Fall 2024)

July 15 – 19
Monday through Friday – 10 am to 3 pm

Pay what you can.
We believe that every child who is drawn to this work should be able to participate. If you are able to pay something, your contribution will help us reach more children!

Summer with SYF 2024

Summer with SYF 2024

Registration is now open for Summer with SYF 2024 – a fantastic way to introduce kids to Shakespeare!

Each session meets Monday through Friday, and culminates with a recital, sharing the work with parents, friends and the community.

We believe that every child who is drawn to this work should be able to participate, so once again this Summer, tuition will be Pay-What-You-Can. If you are able to pay something, your contribution will help us reach more children!

Register here

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!

Our 2023 in review …

After 18 years of growth and expansion, we have had a rich and notable year of milestones in 2023. 

After moving online during COVID, it was glorious to be together again in 2022 to present The Winter’s Tale and Much Ado about Nothing, and we continued to regain our momentum with Shakespeare Youth Festival LA ‘23.


Using the amphitheater at Our Lady of Bright Mount (a hidden gem in Mid-City), our teen ensemble presented a sweepingly epic production of a condensed edit of all three parts of the rarely performed Henry VI – an almost five hour show each performance!

Running alongside Henry, our younger players gave us a dark and inspired production of Macbeth, made even more evocative by our setting outside of the opulent Catholic Church. 



Sadly, the end of our 2023 Festival also brought an end of an era as this was the final season for founder Blaire Baron Larsen as Artistic Director. After almost twenty years guiding the creative vision behind SYF, Blaire has taken her passion and talent across the country to Staunton, Virginia to begin a new chapter in her Shakespeare journey. Not having her in rehearsals and meetings leaves a massive hole that will never truly be filled, however, Blaire’s blood will always run through the veins of SYF and we are proud to announce that she will be joining as the first member of our newly forming Board Of Trustees. 

Although the “Bl-era” (Blaire + Era) is over, we are just getting started! Our Executive Director Julia Wyson has stepped into the role of Artistic Director to carry forward the vision of the organization. To fill her role as ED, one of our long-time teaching artists, and former manager of the Pasadena Playhouse, J. Bailey Burcham has taken the reins. Looking to the future, Julia and Bailey hope to continue the legacy of the Festival while also expanding our name to larger audiences of the greater Los Angeles community. 


This past summer we spent three weeks in Shakespeare Intensive heaven at Kenneth Hahn Park – two of those weeks were spent with our younger tragedians (mostly new to SYF) building the basics, while our final week featured our high school students, who, in just five magical days, directed and performed an extraordinary production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Performed under a massive “wedding” tree at the idyllic Village Green, our “Renaissance Run” (replicating as closely as possible the norms of the original productions in Shakespeare’s day) was a difficult and rewarding process that we will be continuing in future summers. 



Since September we’ve been focused on our 2024 festival to be presented at the historic Hudson Theater Backstage in Hollywood – home to many theatrical world premieres, as well as Comedy Central stand-up specials. We hope you will join us – you can find performance details here!!


January will see us expanding our circle even further, as we return to our community outreach! We are establishing partnerships with local libraries and LAUSD schools to continue our goal of giving access to the magic of Shakespeare to every child in our city. 

We are fortunate to have a loyal staff of extraordinary teaching artists – Kila Packett, Esdras Toussaint, Anniwaa Buachie, and Stephanie Ferrell have all been with us for over a decade and although they may step away periodically to pursue other professional endeavors, they maintain roles within the festival and will always have an artistic home with us. We’ve also added two new teaching artists to our rolodex of talent – we welcome Alessandra Mañon and Anja Racíc to the 2024 season. 

The Future is bright for SYF. There is potential for us to travel again in Summer 2024 to spread the joy of theatre and the stories of Shakespeare across the globe. Many of our alumni have expressed interest in our goal to present Alumni Shows, possibly at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, allowing our past players to return to our stage. 

Here’s where you come in – It is time to rebuild our infrastructure to support the more than 1,000 young artists we will work with in the coming years – your donation can help us do that! Please help us continue our mission to make the magic of theater and Shakespeare accessible to all!


With much love, and best wishes for a spectacular 2024!

Julia & Bailey

PS. Interested in helping Shakespeare Youth Festival in other ways? Check out our Wish List!!