THE LONG BEACH SHAKESPEARE COMPANY STORY
The Long Beach Shakespeare Company was established in 1990 as the non-profit [501 (c)(3)] theatre arts organization “The-Bard-In-The-Yard.” Its goal was to provide free Shakespeare to the greater Long Beach community, particularly underprivileged audiences, by performing in the parks of Long Beach in the summer.
In 1997, under the artistic direction of Helen Borger’s, the company became a full-time operation, performing all over southern and central California throughout the year in schools, churches, museums, Renaissance faires, Girl Scout Camps, Boy Scout meetings, the Challengers Boys and Girls Club, and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, as well as in the parks of Long Beach. The company began a three-year association with the Long Beach Public Corporation for the Arts in their Passport to the Arts program in the Long Beach Unified School Dis- trict. The company also expanded its repertoire to include classics from the Greeks to early 20th century American authors and playwrights.
The company changed its name to the Long Beach Shakespeare Company (LBSC) in 1999 and began producing an annual free summer festival in the parks of Long Beach, producing two plays in repertory on its own portable two-level Elizabethan stage.
In 2000, LBSC began a two-year partnership with the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, creating and touring Shakespeare workshops for Cerritos and surrounding school districts. LBSC also developed workshops for the Cerritos Arts Center to aid teachers teaching Shakespeare in the classroom.
In addition to producing the free summer festival, LBSC opened its own resident theatre in 2003--the Black Box Theatre in Bixby Knolls. LBSC continued school tours in the greater Long Beach area. LBSC also began giving performances for middle and high school classes in the Black Box Theatre.
In 2004, LBSC moved its sum-mer festival to the front lawn of the Aquarium of the Pacific in downtown Long Beach, expanding from six to eight-weekends of performances.
LBSC began a New Writers program In 2005, producing original plays by local playwrights. LBSC agreed to provide performance space for the Long Beach City College Drama Club and the Poly High School Improv team.
On February 10th, 2006, LBSC changed the name of its resident Black Box Theatre. It is now the Richard Goad Theatre, named after a generous contributor. In 2007, LBSC’s 9th annual summer festival joined the Long Beach Sea Festival, drawing crowds from Los Angeles, Orange, and River-side counties. In addition, LBSC partnered with the American Ballet Theatre, Bixby Knolls’ First Fridays, Barnes & Noble, and Gladstone’s Long Beach for promotions, performances and fundraising.
The continuing tradition of excellence is manifested in the world premiere stage production of Dashiell Hammett’s gritty masterpiece, The Maltese Falcon. February 2008 brought LBSC its biggest hit to date--a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In May, 2008, LBSC departed from traditional staging and brought Euripides’ great tragedy, The Bacchae, to life as a rock opera with music by Edmund Velasco.
In 2009, new educational programs were developed, beginning with our very successful Summer Drama Camp, which continue through the present. 2010 saw the addition to the schedule of A Celebration of Shakespeare during the whole month of April.
Highlights of the 2011 season included our 13th Annual Long Beach Shakespeare Festival, which took place at Bixby Park and was the first festival to include food and events in the style of a Renaissance Faire. During the fall of 2011, Borgers adapted and directed a highly praised stage version of Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles, and the Planetary Society partnered with LBSC on the annual production of The War of the Worlds. The company continues to grow and to bring new talent to the classical stage.