Shakespeare fans volunteer at festival

By Arielle Maxner

Alumni, students and Upper School English teacher Jocelyn Medawar, joined the Independent Shakespeare Company this summer, helping behind the scenes, selling tickets and clothing and setting up activities.

ISC “needed help with crowd control,” Medawar said. “I thought of Harvard-Westlake students, of course.”

“I thought it would be a good use of my time,” volunteer Sara Carreras ’13 said. “It definitely turned out to be. I thought it was great. I met some really nice people in the cast, crew, and other volunteers. It was exciting seeing over a thousand people each night come to watch the shows and enjoy it. Also, everyone thanked me a lot for handing out free stuff and pointing out where the bathrooms were, so that made me feel [great.]”

Samantha Frischling ’13 also enjoyed the experience of working at ISC, highly certain it would be a “fun thing to try.”

“I’m really happy that I found out about the company, because I would love to go see another one of their shows,” Frischling said.

Medawar described helping ISC as “thrilling. There is nothing like working with actors to remind a teacher that Shakespeare’s plays were intended to be seen. Working with them makes me a better teacher,” Medawar said.

Medawar has been involved with the company for three three years and is their dramaturg, a position she said is “a fancy way of saying that I help out with textual matters.”

Medawar has the Managing Director and one of the leading actors of ISC David Melville talk to her Shakespeare elective class to give an otherwise unseen perspective of the plays.

Performing arts teacher Chris Moore also helped get the word out about the company, sending emails to students.

ISC “is a terrific company that brings the works of Shakespeare to a large audience—for free,” Moore said. “They are a talented group of actors, directors, technicians who make the Bard’s work extremely entertaining and very accessible to audiences of all ages. It is a great place to see theater and for students who love theater to become involved in the machinatins of a working professional theater company of dedicated artists.”

Emily Altschul ’09 was the house manager this summer and organized the volunteers.

Rachel Katz ’11 also got involved with ISC’s productions of “Hamlet” and “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” acting as the stage manager.

She heard about ISC through a combination of Medawar and Moore, and took the Shakespeare elective the first semester of her senior year.

“David Melville, who together with his wife Melissa Chalsma started ISC, came and spoke to our [Shakespeare] class,” volunteer Jacob Axelrad ’10 said. “He told us about the work done by his company and his own unique philosophy on Shakespeare’s plays.”

“I had a great time working backstage and learning about the production process,” Axelrad said. “Everyone in the company, from the stage manager to the actors, was so friendly and helpful. Aside from getting to learn about Shakespeare from a theatrical perspective, it was also just fun to go to the park to help out the company every weekend.”

“It’s been so exciting to watch the company grow,” Medawar said. “Over 25,000 people came to the shows in Griffith Park this very summer; that’s twice the number as last year.”