The heart of most theatrical teams goes beyond merely entertaining. Educating, inspiring, and providing a respite from daily life is usually part of the goal. The Old Globe Theatre has continued to excel in these endeavors since its beginning.
Globe Artistic Director Barry Edelstein has brought new ideas and outstanding work to this theater, most recently with the program “Globe for All.” It’s a professional production Shakespeare tour to serve communities throughout San Diego by collaborating with a diverse range of organizations including: Naval Base San Diego, Veterans Village, George L. Stevens Senior Center, Morgan Kimball Towers, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation Celebration Hall, San Diego Central Library’s Shiley Special Events Suite, Father Joe’s Village, Centinela State Prison and the Globe’s Hattox Hall.
Eric Louie, a Globe associate producer, was in on the planning.
“Along with our director of education, Roberta Wells-Famula, we’re overseeing those putting the tour together and all the venues for community outreach to audiences,” Louie said. Edelstein chose Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well” and is also directing.
“He’s worked on this play before and loves it,” Louie said. “It’s a great piece to launch this new initiative. It’s a romance with a sense of magic and wonder, it’s funny, and at the same time deeply moving about a young woman from a lower economic bracket who falls for a man and how they come together.”
The cast includes recent Old Globe/University of San Diego M.F.A. program graduates, Old Globe/USD alumnus, and local favorites. In keeping with Edelstein’s belief that theater belongs to everyone, he and his team focused on the community to determine in what venues this production would take place.
“There were certain communities we knew we wanted to reach,” Louie said. “We identified audiences that were not traditionally ones we see here at The Globe, people don’t have access to theater populations like homeless, veterans and those currently incarcerated.”
One venue on that list is Centinela State Prison in Imperial. As imagined, the Globe team has some extra hoops to jump through for this to take place.
“They’ve been wonderful to work with,” Louie said. “We did a site visit to work through logistics. At the Globe we have an entire system in place, but in performing at places like cafeterias, gymnasiums, multipurpose rooms and a prison that are not used to having a live performance; there were things we had to figure out.”
Although not a full performance of the play, Louie confirmed the prisoners would see high caliber Shakespeare, simply done with no theatrical lighting, but with sets, props and costumes.
“Everything must fit into a van and is built with a keen eye on having it feel like a full production, but without all the bells and whistles,” he said. “The focus is on the acting and language. Globe associate set designer Sean Fanning, along with Barry, created a conceptual idea of suitcases as the main focus element; things from the cases transform into other things. Michelle Hunt Souza has designed wonderful costumes. There is live music — a soundscape by Kevin Anthenill.”
As with the success of the Globe’s Community Voices program, Louie said they are already getting corporation and involvement of the community in Globe for All.
“Some of the venues getting the free tour offer a chance for a handful of their audience members to see this show and write their own plays based on themes in ‘All’s Well That Ends Well,’ ” he said. “The fourth district senior center created its own distribution system for flyers to reach out to community churches and businesses to get people to turn out to see live theater. Father Joe’s Village, one of the largest homeless shelters in the county, created buttons they wear around the shelter that say, ‘Ask me about Globe for All.’ ”
Louie is pleased the efforts of this program are already changing lives.
“This is not only Barry’s passion to bring live theater into the community; there’s a real commitment from the staff here as well. In essence we’re feeling an excitement about live theater coming to areas of our town, and we’re excited because it’s in our home. It helps to remind us that the arts are essential to everyone’s life.”
—Editor’s Note: Diana Saenger will attend the “All’s Well That Ends Well” production at Centinela State Prison and bring La Jolla Light readers a review.