Shakespeare festival to create own theatrical troupe |

Shakespeare festival to create own theatrical troupe

Carrie Richards/Sun News ServiceRomeo, played by Brandon Petty, and Juliet, played by Lenne Klingaman, act out one of the play's most famous scenes at Sand Harbor's outdoor playhouse last summer. The long-running festival is considering forming its own company.

INCLINE VILLAGE ” The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival at Sand Harbor is undergoing some major changes next year in hopes of supplying a better product.

Executive Director Catherine Atack said the festival is ending its 11-year relationship with the Foothill Theater Company and creating its own theater company to oversee the artistic design of the shows. For the last 11 years, the festival had been subcontracting its artistic control of the shows to the Nevada City-based Foothill Theater Company.

“In our talks with Shakespeare companies across the country we found out many people were surprised we didn’t have our own theater company given the size of our production. We are actually quite an anomaly in the business. People we talked to were shocked that we would hand creative control over to a sub-contractor,” Atack said.

The in-house company will control everything from auditioning and hiring actors to set and costume design and lighting.

“We think it is important to have a theater department of our own to improve the quality of the product,” Atack said.

To oversee the new operation, the festival hired Jan Powell, a Shakespearean director with 25 years of experience.

“Jan has a number of contacts all across the country with actors and other theater people that we think will be an asset to our production,” Atack said.

The change to an in-house production company has been in the works for some time, Atack said.

“We’ve been hoping to have our own company for a couple of years now. We did a feasibility study and it showed that we needed our own company to be a heavyweight in theater production,” Atack said.

The announcement comes on the heels of a fruitful 2007 season for the festival.

“It was our most successful season ever, we were up 10 percent in attendance and ticket sales from 2006. Part of that is due to the fact the plays we performed are very well known, Taming of the Shrew and Romeo and Juliet,” Atack said.

She also credited the success to great weather and a concentrated marketing plan. Posters and mail announcements about the play were sent to Nevada, Southern California, Oregon and Washington.

“We changed our marketing plan and had a different creative vibe this year, it was much more concerted,” Atack said.

The marketing worked, as the festival averaged 70 percent capacity of the 1,200-seat Sand Harbor bowl.

“In addition to local attendance, we get people from all across the nation and from Europe,” Atack said.

Next year, the festival is offering two Shakespeare plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Richard III.

“Performing Richard is the first time that we’ve done a history, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream is very well known so we expect a continued increase in attendance,” Atack said.

And as long as the festival’s attendance increases, Atack sees a permanent home in its future.

“Once SNC builds a performing arts center, we’d like to move in and perform year-round,” Atack said. “But, we don’t know when that will happen.”

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