The Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival (KSF) returns to California Lutheran University for its 26th season, its second since the two-year pandemic-induced hiatus, on Friday, June 30 through Aug. 6, with “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.”
Starring Dane Oliver as Proteus and Seta Wainiqolo as Valentine, and directed by KSF veterans Brett Elliott and Caitlin Arndt, the production puts a fresh spin on one of Shakespeare’s earlier comedies. Rather than the move from Verona to Milan that occurs within the play, the audience at the Kingsmen festival instead will be transported from the Catskills in New York to the glitz and glamor of Hollywood.
“Scenes of the play are set on a movie set with characters being actors, directors, producers, and background people, which creates a lot of action, enables us to add period music and dance, and allows us to explore the sometimes-misogynistic world of Hollywood,” Artistic Director Michael Arndt said.
Despite being penned in the late 1500s, “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” has relatable themes for all ages. The performance explores friendship, love, infidelity and resilience, while keeping the tone relatively lighthearted.
“The audience should find plenty to laugh at: lots of puns and language jokes, comic action, wonderful clown characters, and a dog,” Arndt said. “But they should also find moments in the production when female characters stand up and wrest ownership of their own fates from fathers, studio heads and the men who treat them merely as sex objects.”
Later this summer, Kingsmen Shakespeare Company will tackle “King Lear,” one of Shakespeare’s most renowned tragedies. Though distinct from “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” in focus and tone, “King Lear” similarly tackles themes of power and tradition, offering thought-provoking insights into the human condition.
“The Two Gentlemen of Verona” will take place in Kingsmen Park on Cal Lutheran’s Thousand Oaks campus on June 30, July 1 and 2; July 7, 8, and 9; and July 14, 15, and 16. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and shows start at 8 p.m. Tickets are first come, first served.
“King Lear” will take place in Kingsmen Park on Cal Lutheran’s campus on July 21, 22, and 23; July 28, 29, and 30; and August 4, 5, and 6. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and shows start at 8 pm. Tickets are first come, first served.
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 $100 to $120. Tickets are available for purchase online with $3 fees. For more information and tickets, visit kingsmenshakespeare.org or call 805-493-3452.