Power Outage Doesn’t Stop Shakespeare

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By John Farrell, Curtain Call Writer

William Shakespeare had more than his share of production headaches back when the Globe Theater, the original Globe Theater, was operating.

Never mind the fact that his female characters had to be played by men — effeminate men, no doubt, but still.

Never mind that his scripts had to be hand written. (His complete plays weren’t published until after he had been dead a few years.)

No, those were small problems. How would you react if the Lord Chamberlain closed your theater occasionally for religious reasons, or political ones, and you couldn’t do much but pray the politics would change shortly?

How would you react of the playhouse was closed in times of plague? There were no real health professionals back in the 1600s: you and your company might just die (or have to move into the country, to Stratford upon Avon, perhaps, where your pesky wife Anne Hathaway and her second-best bed were waiting for you.

Yes, there were lot of problems back then, but we’d be willing to bet that the problems Theater Elysium San Pedro Rep has encountered bringing their production of Much Ado About Nothing to their San Pedro stage were problems that even the Bard of Avon didn’t encounter. Much Ado About Nothing recently opened in previews. Opening night is March 20 at 7:30 p.m. and the play will continue at TE San Pedro Rep Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m. through May 3. That is, it will continue as long as the power grid allows.

That’s right, the power grid. Speculate all you want about whether Shakespeare is Shakespeare or whether he is actually the 17th Earl of Oxford, Christopher Marlowe, the 6th Earl of Derby or perhaps Sir Francis Bacon. (Earls are big in the list of 80 or so candidates for Shakespeare’s glory: princes need not apply.) But no matter who wrote or didn’t write Shakespeare, no one had to experience a power outage at their theater. Maybe a candle or two guttered, maybe a torch went out. But there was no 16th century power grid to go out.

On the other hand, the San Pedro power grid is, at least occasionally, unreliable. TE San Pedro Rep is housed in a former doctor’s office on 7th St, near Mitzi’s Strudel and the Whale and Ale, across the street from Godmother’s. And last week, during the two days that company co-founder and Much Ado director Aaron Ganz had allotted for technical rehearsals (those are the rehearsals where lighting and sound are checked) the power down both sides of 7th Street was out.

Surprisingly, Little Fish Theatre, which shares an alley with TE San Pedro Rep, had no problems. But then, according to one former downtown San Pedro businessman, the grid runs down both sides of the street, so Little Fish, facing 8th Street, wouldn’t be affected by an outage on 7th Street.

Ganz was on the afternoon bus that this reviewer took to San Pedro a week ago. He lives in San Pedro and works a day job in downtown. I was going to San Pedro to see The Ladies Foursome at the unaffected Little Fish.

Ganz was positively cheerful about the technical contretemps, even though Much Ado About Nothing was going to open the next evening. “We had a power outage for two days,” Ganz said with a smile. “It closed down both sides of the street: Godmother’s had to close, and we had to do out tech rehearsals later.” He seemed sure that the show would go on: apparently in the theater that motto is actually believed.

Much Ado About Nothing is the first offering from TE San Pedro Rep in their second year in San Pedro, a year that has seen much-acclaimed productions of Hamlet, Wouldn’t It Be Lovely, The Lady of Shallot and Oedipus, all intriguing and very different works, all a credit to the company, which also offers acting classes at its San Pedro home. In the next few months TE San Pedro Rep will be offering The Underpants in an adaptation by Steve Martin, Joan of Arc conceived and directed by Ganz, The Vanek Trilogy by Vaclav Havel and Chekhov’s Three Sisters, power outages or not.

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