UC Irvine's drama department will soon realize a 40-year-old dream, when its inaugural season of "Shakespeare Under the Stars" opens next month at an open-air theater, which production staff and technical theater students built by hand.
The festival will feature contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors" and "The Merchant of Venice" presented in the New Swan Theatre, a mini-Elizabethan theater in the round that can be dismantled and moved.
Drama professor and department chair Eli Simon, is leading the effort on behalf of UCI's Claire Trevor School of the Arts.
"Most top drama programs in the country have a summer Shakespeare festival or a professional theater that is part and parcel of their operation," Simon said in an interview. "The drama department at UC Irvine is one of the top 10 drama programs in the country. We just haven't had that."
"The idea of the festival is that it would serve as a training program by providing opportunities for professional alumni and students that are coming in to become professional."