(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — June 16, 2022) Twenty-five years after the first Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival was held, and following a two-year pandemic-caused hiatus, the event kicks off its joyous return to California Lutheran University’s Kingsmen Park with performances of one of the Bard’s most popular comedies.
The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company will perform “As You Like It” at 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from July 1 through 17 on the Thousand Oaks campus.
Warren C. Bowles, who has decades of experience in Shakespearean and contemporary theater throughout the country, presents the play as the festival’s first Black director. He has spent many years working with Mixed Blood Theatre Company in Minneapolis as a director, actor, playwright, stage manager and fight choreographer. Mixed Blood uses theater to disrupt injustices, advance equity, build community and inspire people to create ripple effects of social change.
Like theater groups across the country, Kingsmen Shakespeare Company has been reexamining how it addresses systemic racism. This includes not only the diversity of its casting, but also who is in control of that casting.
“Our company committed itself over the last two years to do better. Warren helped us achieve diverse casting in both plays we are presenting this season.,” said founder and artistic director Michael J. Arndt. “Macbeth” runs July 23 through Aug. 7.
Rosalind, one of Shakespeare’s most iconic female characters, is played by Chloe Baldwin, a former festival apprentice who has appeared in regional productions and on film and television. Seta Wainiqolo, a Cal Lutheran alumnus and former festival intern and apprentice who studied at the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale, is the nobleman Jacques.
Set in the magical Forest of Arden, “As You Like It”is a wild romantic tale that plays with gender roles, politics and nature. Unlike many other directors, Bowles didn’t feel the need to put a unique spin on one of Shakespeare’s most-produced comedies.
“I hope audiences appreciate the simplicity with which we tell our story,” Bowles said. “We trust the play and Shakespeare’s skill as a storyteller.”
The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company is the professional theater company of Cal Lutheran. Admission is $25 for adults, $20 for seniors 62 and older and active military, $15 for students 18 and older with ID, and free for children. Lawn boxes, which accommodate four to six people, are $90 to $110. Online ticketing is available for an additional fee. The grounds open at 5:30 p.m. for pre-show picnicking and entertainment. For more information and tickets, visit kingsmenshakespeare.org or call 805-493-3452.