The Kern Shakespeare Festival kicked off their 34 annual production on Oct. 3 in the Outdoor Theatre. The two plays selected for this year’s festival were “Measure for Measure” and “Julius Ceasar.”
The Bakersfield College Performing Arts Department puts on the festival every year, and this year the productions were coincidentally relevant to the current social climate.
“Measure for Measure,” tells the story of the repercussions of sex outside of marriage and believing the victims of sexual assault. It takes place in the early 1980’s as rock and roll was in full swing, and bad decisions were plentiful.
“Julius Ceasar” is altered to the possibility of Ceasar being a woman, and how the public would react to having a woman in power.
Director Cody Ganger explained that she appreciates the history of Shakespeare plays but is amazed how the situations from literature written hundreds of years ago are still relevant to our lives today.
“We decided to go with ‘Measure for Measure’ as the Me Too movement was starting, and no one could have guessed how relevant it is now while we’re performing,” Ganger said.
Ganger agrees that studying Shakespeare is dreaded by most students, but believes that it is intended to be performed rather than read in class.
“Shakespeare is the greatest writer of all time, but so many people only experience him in the classroom,” Ganger said.
Sophomore theatre student Ryan Darbee attended the play to complete an assignment, but he left the production with a greater appreciation for live performances.
“I liked seeing the play in person. Adding humor to a classic story made the experience enjoyable,” said Darbee.
Ganger modernized the play by dressing the actors in modern clothes and playing the B-52’s between scenes.
“Updating costumes, music, and set design keeps the audience involved and helps them relate to the scenes,” Ganger said.
The festival presents opportunities for students to get experience acting, set designing, as well as light and audio production.
“Students are involved in every area of the production. It’s perfect for those who are interested in areas other than acting,” Ganger said.
It may be tough for students to convince themselves to go see the play, but Ganger believes once they take that leap they won’t regret it.
“College is the time to try new things and get out of your comfort zone. I encourage everyone to go and see their first Shakespeare production.”