LAKE COUNTY, Calif - Rehearsals are in full swing for the seventh annual Shakespeare at the Lake (SATL). After two years of virtual shows, cast and crew alike are beyond thrilled to be working on a project that will culminate in front of a live audience.
Under the determined and impassioned direction of John Tomlinson, SATL went online for 2020 and 2021 since live performances were not an option. This year brings the show not only off the screen and onto the stage, but also out of this world in a futuristic intergalactic production of “Twelfth Night.”
Inspired in part by his own affinity for science fiction as well as the private space expeditions that have hit the news recently, Tomlinson thought an outer space setting seemed the perfect way to bring this production to life for the audience. He wanted to go big after two years behind a screen, and you can’t get much bigger than outer space.
Although the production has not been immune to Covid (some cast members have been quarantined and missed several rehearsals), everyone involved is continuing full force with the energy and enthusiasm you might expect from thespians that haven’t done a show in two years.
Tomlinson emphasized that they would get through this as a team. “We will survive on stage, no matter what happens,” he assured his cast. “Our resilience has definitely been tested, not only by Covid, but also by fires and power outages prior to that. All of these challenges have prepared us and taught us to stay flexible, positive, and productive. We were lucky enough to stay in a creative space with two years of online shows, but the real magic of theater is the actual space and movement that happens on a stage, and I am so glad to be back there.”
Cast members are also overjoyed to be performing again, in person. “Every show is a community,” explains Ed Borg, who has been in all seven Shakespeare at the Lake productions. “We still had a community online, but it wasn’t the same.”
Borg returns to audition year after year because it is a healthy stress reliever from his high profile day job as Senior Deputy District Attorney for Lake County. “It’s good to get out of that world and be involved in a project with people who are completely removed from that part of my life.
“Every year it’s a different but equally wonderful community of people. There’s ‘old’ people and there’s ‘new’ people, and then the next year, the ‘new’ people become the ‘old’ people.”
With seven years of SATL under his belt, Borg certainly qualifies as the “oldest” of the bunch. “It’s also so much fun working with John [Tomlinson]. He teaches me things about myself that I didn’t know. When we are doing in-depth character work, I discover things that I didn’t know were there.
“As actors, one of the biggest questions we must ask is ‘What’s my motivation?’ This has actually helped me in all aspects of my life, including my job. I find myself asking ‘What is their motivation?’ when I’m dealing with clients or opposing counsel. Participating in theater has helped shape me into a better attorney, and a better person. And, it’s a lot of fun, too.”
“Helping people discover who they are is one of the ultimate goals of a director,” explains Tomlinson. “I am humbled to be a part of that process with the actors. Theater is about so much more than just putting on a play for an audience. It’s about the actors connecting with the script, each other, and themselves.”
A play will be put on for an audience, five times, and the entire community is invited to attend free of charge. Performances are located at Library Park in Lakeport on July 30 and 31. August 5-7 performances will be held at Austin Park in Clearlake. All shows begin at 7 p.m.
Shakespeare at the Lake is brought to you by Mendocino College and the Lake County Theatre Company, with generous support from the Lake County Friends of Mendocino College and the Cities of Lakeport and Clearlake.