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.

SHAKESPEARE YOUTH FESTIVAL 2023

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. 

 

THE END OF AN ERA

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. 

SUMMER WITH SHAKESPEARE YOUTH FESTIVAL

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. 

 

SHAKESPEARE YOUTH FESTIVAL 2024

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!!

MOVING FORWARD

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!!

Shakespeare Youth Festival LA 2024

Shakespeare Youth Festival, presenting Julius Caesar, Richard II, and The Tempest

We are excited to announce our new season – three plays, to be presented in March of 2024, at the beautiful Hudson Theatre Backstage (6539 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038). The Box Office will open at the beginning of February – hope to see you in the audience!!

JULIUS CAESAR

What makes a tyrant? And who is the hero and who is the villain?

Saturday, March 2 at 2 pm
Sunday, March 3 at 2 pm

Saturday, March 9 at 1 pm
Sunday, March 10 at 1 pm

RICHARD II

Man vs. Martyr – the downfall of an insecure king …

Saturday, March 9 at 5 pm
Sunday, March 10 at 5 pm

Saturday, March 16 at 5 pm
Sunday, March 17 at 5 pm

THE TEMPEST

Marauders meet Magic – shipwreck and sorcery on an island of dreams!!

Saturday, March 16 at 1 pm
Sunday, March 17 at 1 pm

Saturday, March 23 at 2 pm
Sunday, March 24 at 2 pm


SYF announces new leadership

Shakespeare Youth Festival

After seventeen years with Shakespeare Youth Festival, Blaire Baron is leaving Los Angeles as well as her position as Artistic Director of the youth arts non-profit that she founded. She will continue to serve on the Board of Directors and as a global ambassador from her new location in Staunton, Virginia (home of American Shakespeare Center). J. Bailey Burcham, who has been involved/engaged with the organization since 2015, will step into the Executive Director spot, replacing Julia Walker Wyson who, as the new Artistic Director, will focus on the artistic direction of the company.

Baron founded SYF (formerly, Los Angeles Drama Club) in 2005, with a handful of children in her backyard — home of the historic Brookledge Theatre, precursor to LA’s Magic Castle. Through her artistic vision, the group exploded into a thriving non-profit that has reached children not only all over LA, but in Kenya, Botswana, and Mexico. “We are delighted that Blaire will continue her association with Shakespeare Youth Festival,” Wyson commented. “Among other things, as a Board member, she will be integrally involved in developing our international program, which she initiated with a trip to Botswana in 2018.” 

As Executive Director, J. Bailey Burcham will focus on expanding the programming and reach of SYF to make the highest quality of theater and community even more accessible to the youth of Los Angeles and beyond. Burcham, who first became associated with SYF in 2015 as a cast member of a production of Baron’s original script “Outspoken: Shakespeare in Shackles,” is also a local Director, Producer and Award-Winning Writer.  He has directed and produced everything from Regional Musical Theater to Experimental Fringe offerings. Previously, in his role as the Manager of the Pasadena Playhouse, Burcham was an integral part of their Tony Award Winning season. “Shakespeare Youth Festival has changed the lives of so many people, including myself,” said Burcham. “I couldn’t be more proud to take on this position to bring more of what we do to the world.” Wyson added, “Bailey is a creative, dynamic, and multi-talented artist, and we are excited to see where he takes our organization. His deep connections to the Los Angeles theater community will benefit our young artists, and he is already using those connections to bring new and diverse talent to our teaching staff.” 

Shakespeare Youth Festival’s first project under Burcham’s leadership was the annual Summer Shakespeare Institute. Youth, ages 7 – 14, from all over Los Angeles gathered in Kenneth Hahn Park to explore Shakespeare and theater. Immediately following that, the SYF Teen Ensemble presented the 2nd Annual “Ren Week,” inspired by a tradition at Staunton Virginia’s American Shakespeare Center, where they met on Monday, rehearsed all week, and presented a full-length production (this year’s was “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”) on Friday and Saturday. 

In the Fall, the troupe will begin rehearsals for “Richard II” (first time for the company), “Julius Caesar,” and “The Tempest.” The productions will be presented at the 18th annual Shakespeare Youth Festival LA.

Shakespeare Youth Festival 2023

Shakespeare Youth Festival 2023

Henry VI: War of the Roses

Saturday, March 11: Part One at 2 pm and Part Two at 4:30 pm
Sunday, March 12: Part One at 3 pm and Part Two at 5:30 pm

Saturday, March 18: Part One at 3 pm and Part Two at 5:30 pm
Sunday, March 19: Part One at 3 pm and Part Two at 5:30 pm

Macbeth

Saturday, March 25: Part One at 3 pm and Part Two at 4 pm
Sunday, March 26: Part One at 3 pm and Part Two at 4 pm

All performances will take place at:

Our Lady of Bright Mount
3424 W Adams Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90018


COVID POLICIES

Because the performance is outdoors, we will not require masks or proof of vaccination. We kindly request, though, that if you are feeling ill, you stay home, as you will be sitting in close proximity to other audience members.

Summer with SYF 2023

Summer with SYF 2023

Registration is now open for Summer with SYF 2023 – 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

SYF awarded two grants from California Arts Council

SYF awarded two grants from California Arts Council

The California Arts Council has announced a grant award of $18,000 to Shakespeare Youth Festival as part of its Impact Project program in its first round of funding for 2022.

Thanks to this generous support, in Fall 2023, we will launch a multigenerational community project between our students, and elder members of the West Adams community, consisting of meaningful interviews transformed into short plays, spoken word, poetry, monologues culminating in free performances for the community.

“The pandemic created a risk of isolation and depression in many of our community’s elders – as life moved ‘online,’ seniors, especially low-income seniors, risked being left out of many of the activities that would normally have provided them with connection,” says Blaire Baron, our Artistic Director. “Now that we can begin emerging out of our isolation, we want to send a message to them that we value their experience, their memories, and their wisdom. Being seen and heard, having one’s story told for others, and acknowledgement from one’s community is a profound stabilizing, healing and uplifting event.”

In addition, Shakespeare Youth Festival will receive a General Operating grant of $28,500. We are deeply grateful for this support, which will enable us to continue to expand our programs to pre-pandemic levels and beyond.

Shakespeare Youth Festival was featured as part of a larger announcement from the California Arts Council, with grant awards for its Cycle A programming totaling more than $31 million across more than 1,100 grants supporting nonprofit organizations and units of government throughout the state. The dollar amount already marks the largest annual investment in the California Arts Council’s 46-year history.

“We are elated today to be able to say that, with this first round of funds, we are placing a historic amount of money into the very worthy hands of California’s arts and cultural workforce—and with more yet to come,” said California Arts Council Chair Lilia Gonzáles-Chávez. “We have long since understood the value of our artists in this state, and we are incredibly grateful to our Governor and our Legislature for their support and sharing in a like-minded vision for a California where all people flourish with access to and participation in the arts.”

Organizations were awarded grants across seven different program areas within Cycle A, focused on the CAC’s efforts to address geographic equity, enable autonomy and sustainability for smaller organizations, and grow the strength of local arts agencies and their partnerships.

To view a complete listing of all California Arts Council grantees by county, visit this link.

For a complete listing of grantees by organization, go to this link.

The California Arts Council is a state agency with a mission of strengthening arts, culture, and creative expression as the tools to cultivate a better California for all. It supports local arts infrastructure and programming statewide through grants, initiatives, and services. The California Arts Council envisions a California where all people flourish with universal access to and participation in the arts.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Lilia Gonzáles-Chávez, Chair; Consuelo Montoya, Vice Chair; Gerald Clarke, Vicki Estrada, Jodie Evans, Ellen Gavin, Alex Israel, Phil Mercado, and Roxanne Messina Captor. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov.

The California Arts Council is committed to increasing the accessibility of its online content. For language and accessibility assistance, click here.

The Wild World of Shakespeare!

The Wild World of Shakespeare!

Come to ACT, to listen, to move and to CREATE A SHOW in less than two hours. That’s right! Shakespeare is not just strange words on a page – it’s a living adventure with many wild stories and they include YOU!

Walk away from this workshop filled with excitement for Shakespeare and storytelling!

Thursday, June 9 from 3:30 to 5:00 pm

FREE and Open to Grades 2 through 8

Jefferson Branch
Los Angeles Public Library

2211 W. Jefferson Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90018

Thinking about joining us for the Summer? This workshop is a great way to get acquainted with Shakespeare, and learn what Shakespeare Youth Festival is all about. If you have questions, please email us at speak@shakespeareyouthfestival.com




RSVP for The Wild World of Shakespeare

Shakespeare Youth Festival 2022

Shakespeare Youth Festival 2022

Face Everything And Rise might look like an acronym for FEAR, but it is exactly what Hermione (Winter’s Tale) and Hero (Much Ado) must do against extreme power and misogyny—at the hands of the one they loved and trusted. They have great reason to fear, but with the help of a few good allies, they rise to  goddess-like status. These metaphors presented 400 years ago are still relevant for us in 2022. Come rise with us. 

The Winter’s Tale

Friday, March 18 at 7 pm
Saturday, March 19 at 7 pm
Sunday, March 20 at 2 pm

Friday, March 25 at 7 pm
Saturday, March 26 at 7 pm
Sunday, March 27 at 2 pm

Much Ado about Nothing

Friday, April 1 at 7 pm
Saturday, April 2 at 2 pm
Sunday, April 3 at 2 pm

All performances will take place at:

Fais Do Do
5253 W Adams Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90016


COVID POLICIES

To keep our (unmasked) actors safe, we require that all audience members present proof of vaccination (or recent COVID test) upon admission, and remain masked throughout the performance. To keep our audience safe, we will be limiting the number of tickets sold at each performance, so that we may preserve social distancing in the audience.

SHAKESPEARE YOUTH FESTIVAL: LA ’21

SHAKESPEARE YOUTH FESTIVAL: LA ’21

SHAKESPEARE YOUTH FESTIVAL 2021

In April, we’ll be presenting Shakespeare Youth Festival LA 2021, live on Vimeo! Our Virtual Box Office will open in March … join our mailing list to be notified of the Festival performances.

MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

A mysterious forest, ruled over by a Fairy King and Queen, and inhabited by all sorts of magical creatures. A bunch of “civilians” who sneak into the forest to rehearse a play. And four young runaways who are fed up with life in The Court, and get caught up in it all. There’s a reason this is considered one of Shakespeare’s classics – come escape with us!!

Friday, April 16 at 7 pm
Saturday, April 17 at 2 pm
Sunday, April 18 at 2 pm

UNSPOKEN: SHAKESPEARE’S PERSONAE IN PERIL

The Shakespeare Canon is about to be privatized. A group of minor Shakespeare Actor-Characters are held in a Greenroom while the new “Funders” vote on permanent cuts to the Canon. The actor/characters must stand before the Funders and prove their relevance in their respective plays. A bittersweet comedy, its noteworthy theme embraces all marginalized people and groups having to claim their right to exist in a rapidly intolerant society. It also addresses is the life of an actor, asking the question – are all the sacrifices made for a life in the theatre really worth it?

This bittersweet comedy is a SYF original, and was a smash hit at the 2017 Hollywood Fringe!!

Friday, April 23 at 7 pm
Saturday, April 24 at 2 pm
Sunday, April 25 at 2 pm

RICHARD III

Remember That Guy We Love to Loathe? Yes, exactly! Who else?! The Boar … aka Crookback … aka KING RICHARD III!!

With 2020 behind us, we will now freely flash a 2-ton klieg light on what makes a dysfunctional dynasty.  In our Web of Dysfunction, we weave together the best of characters in the play – from the Boar’s right hand, Buckingham, who manipulates him, to his wife Lady Ann who loathes him, to his sister in law, Queen Consort, Elizabeth, who threatens him, to his enemy (Queen) Margaret of Anjou who curses him ….and finally, his Mother, Cecily Neville, who rejects him. 

Friday, April 30 at 7 pm
Saturday, May 1 at 2 pm
Sunday, May 2 at 2 pm