The ISE Bard Buzz for early 2012!
  Kicking off Festival 2012!
ISE has had a very busy and heartwarming early Spring kick-off to Festival season 2012! Its this time of year that we kick off our annual educational programming and outreach - all of which ties in to the upcoming Festival.   We also start our special events at this time.
Todays column focuses on two aspects of Festival 2012- a few of our "Sunday Afternoon with Friends" special events (below) and on our ever-growing youth programs. We always find our work with youth touches and teaches us as much as WE hope we also touch their lives - and our year-round youth work this year was no exception.  So lets start with apartial overview of what we're up to with the kids this year - - so far!

ISE 2012 YOUTH OUTREACH PROGRAMS (to date): From January thru April, we've had the honor of working to serve some of this community's most fragile at-risk youth in a project that featured a fully 6 week Intensive Residency held on site at the YESS Classrooms (Youth Emergency Services and Shelter.)  There, 2 classes of high school youth experienced a healthy doses of Shakespeare and theatre work during the course of their regular classroom teaching in association with a great prototype curriculum developed through a very special ISE internship with Rachel McKenna, an ISU Graduate student of literature.  The students responded to the pilot curriculum in extremely positive ways.  Our YESS collaborative partners ttreated the students their peers, YESS staff and community visitors to a wonderful staged reading youth performance and reception on April 3. 

For another great kick-off to Festival 2012, ISE has also been delighted to collaborate with Penny Ferguson of Gateway Dance Theatre on a terrific Spring Break SmART Camp for 35 students of multiple ages, ethnicities, and native languages.  The daily Camp program found Lorenzo immersed in teaching another new iSE pilot curriculum, which the youth later performed for parents, friends and community at a Showcase and Community Reception held at Des Moines University!  Each youth received a graduation medal and certificate.   Photos coming soon!
SPRING ISE SPECIAL EVENTS 2012:  As usual each year, as a lead-in to the summer Mainstage play, ISE creates a wide variety of great special events, workshops, and lectures, such as last year's "Evening with Stacy Keach" - THE leading Shakespeaean actor in America today! (See News articles and photos from that event in the "News" chapter of our site menu.) 

This year will be no exception.  In a great partnership/collaboration with one of central Iowa's most distinguished performing arts agencies, the Des Moines Civic Center, ISE will have the distinct honor of putting together an extra-special night out with the Bard, in association with the amazing Chicago Shakespeare Troupe: Improvised Shakespeare.  We first saw this extraordinary troupe at the Shakespeare World Congress conference in Chicago last year, and all we can say is: "WOW oh WOW oh WOW"!  No show is the same twice, and we promise: this will be an evening which combines sheer genius with laugh-out-of-your-seats humor that you have NEVER seen elsewhere- and are unlikely to see again!  True virtuosity and utter mastery of a complex art form - on steroids! 

You simply have GOT to see this show, and THE way to do so will be at ISE's specialOpening Week event - sure to be our usual community spectacular.  More info coming soon - watch for this special evening during early May!

MORE 2012 SPECIAL EVENTS:  A Shakespeare Festival is about many things- including the gourmet picnics!  So, among other 2012 ISE special events, you'll also enjoy the next installment of our delightful "Sunday Afternoon With Friends' event series, when you never know what will happen -but you know you'll love the company and the food! The cultural cognoscenti will not want to miss this great fundraising brunch, being planned with those who run what is widely recognized as THE best brunch in town, downtown's American Cafe!  Yep- watch this space for dates and times!  Note that this one is shaping up to be so popular, we may host this in the fall to accommodate all comers! Hosted by members of ISE's Young Professionals Society.

ISE's ARTISTIC DIRECTOR IN DEMAND: Finally, ISE is proud to announce our own Lorenzo Sandoval, ISE Artistic Director, has been very much in demand himself this year.  Lorenzo was selected for the starring role in an Iowa film already scheduled as a submission into film festivals across the country! Produced by noted TV director Paul Verge, of Iowa Public Television renown, the film started shooting in January and as of the end of March: It's a Wrap!

Chicago actress Candice Rose, seen on such television series as ER, JAG, and several soap operas, was brought in to play opposite Lorenzo.

Titled "Trying to Quit", the film portrays the momentary connection between two lonely individuals who are trying to overcome self destructive habits. The film was shot in and around Osceola, Iowa and features terrific "art noir" production values, a side of Lorenzo you have NEVER seen before - and one heck of a sensational Train scene!

Watch for an ISE opening night party when this film hits its first film festival! We'll have an outstanding line up of cultural celebrities in store to do the "ribbon cutting"!

Its been a great 2012 so far!

Winter 2012 may not have brought much snow, but it sure brought lots of fun and quite a few neat honors to ISE staff.

Lorenzo in particular has been in demand:
  • Among the terrific things described above, Lorenzo also had the distinct honor of being athrice-returning lead Theatre Critic and Judge for the State of Iowa's magnificent All-State Speech and Theatre Festival competition
  • Hard to top that for someone who loves theatre as much as Lorenzo does - but yep, what a winter it was!
  • For of course Lorenzo also loves his teaching work - and he was deeply touched by being the recipient of a major teaching award.
  • In late March, Upper Iowa University recognized Lorenzo with an "Excellence in Teaching" Award- an award which means even more in that it is given partly through student reccommendations and partly by faculty.  You really have to hit on all cylinders for this one!
Sold Out - and Sold Out - and Sold Out!

 Wow! What a way to close out 2011 - with such an amazing reprise of our famous "Chrismas Carol" Holiday Show at Terrace Hill! 
OF COURSE the ISE Holiday Show at the Terrace Hill Governor's Mansion show ENTIRELY sold out!   No wait, we mean it sold out... like Gangbusters!  Before we even started making tickets available, we opened up fully 25% additional new seats for each and every show, to serve an audience that much bigger than ever before in the past- and the play STILL sold out completely. 

In fact, we fully sold out even BEFORE the notable state-wide press coverage which the show attracted. 

No wait- actually, truth be told:  we OVER sold out - double and triple sold out, in fact!  You see, thanks to all of your incredible enthusiasm and trust in us, demand was so high that we even had to put Dress Rehearsal tickets on sale - twice- and BOTH issues of DR tix sold out within the very same day we put them on line.  It was just an incredible response from the public - and we are very grateful.  But then again, we had stars a plenty to see in this show - what an amazing cast and crew, pulling off a truly extraordinary staging feat!

If you didn't see this show, scroll below to read about it - and be SURE to order tickets early next year! 


Iowa's wonderful FREE THEATRE FESTIVAL has concluded for 2011.    PUT US ON YOUR CALENDER FOR SUMMER 2012 - check out our "Sneak Preview" column in upper right hand corner of this page!  Meanwhile, here's a quick 2011 recap: Re-live the fun!   Despite wide media focus on "the worst heat wave in 20 years", (and the hottest July in fully 56 years!)we had a GREAT run with upwards of several hundred attending almost every single night - there was almost always  a cool breeze on the River!   Word-of-mouth just kept buzzing and buzzing so that our final shows (like our Carlisle show) were particularly packed with enthusiastic fans - just terrific turn outs!    HERE ARE SOME 2011 HIGHLIGHTS: 

  • Our inaugural Classics-Along-the-Cityscape series featuring Mark Twain concluded to simply rave reviews!  One couple who saw the show in their home town of Carlisle loved it SO much they made the 60 mile roundtrip drive to see it again the very next night up in Ankeny!  And came up again to the Mainstage to see our Shakespeare show!  That's just a sample of the enthusiasm that met our great cast, and we especially thank the historic Randeleman House for that truly beautiful Show reception with all the home-baked goodies and the delicious wine and other summer beverages  served up in such lovely surroundings with silver, crystal and fresh flowers - WOW! .  Thank you also to the Mayor and many Carlisle leaders who welcomed us in such delightful fashion!!


  • Our Shakespeare Under-the-Stars show, The Regina Monologues also received rave reviews - - from experts who regularly attend other national festivals, as well as from our general audiences.  That show is set to be sent out to other national festivals for a production initiative involving the national Shakespeare festival scene! 
  • Our first foray into opportunities to travel our shows to the outlying suburbs was also met with great response.  Many members of the cast and from our musician's ranks want to get together to further develop these terrific opportunities!
  • Our Prairie Meadows Family Night was a sumptuous buffet of treats - nurturing children with a wide variety of flavors!  From Mozart with the Belin String Quartet to Drum Circle Dancing to the sing-along folk music of Rob Lumbard and our great Twain tales, it was a night rich indeed- capped with the Children's Story circle on the stage featuring an original Twain-based story by MFA author Torii Grabowski!  Fun for one and all!
  • Two names: Tina Haase Findlay and Rob Lumbard! Royal reviews indeed for such a royal pre-show set before each of our Regina Monologues shows!  Rob was simply at his Emmy-winning best!  And, its always a highlight on "the best night of summer" to hear Tina singing "Summertime" - and to cap that with an original Tina song written expressly for our show- wow, the Arts in Iowa don't get much better than that- Here we are in clover - -At Last!
  • Chuck Fuller:  It's not for nothing that you are  deemed Caterer to  the Stars! You always take our on-site Festival VIP party to new heights, and this year, you outdid yourself!  What a truly beautiful affair - waterside with such a lovely view: the striped tents were gorgeous, the treats divine, and the conversations flowed like the wine!  We will never forget the sight of so many Tiki torches blazing come sunset- thank you , thank you THANK YOU!
Favorite Comments to date of 2011:
"We're from Dubuque and came across the Fest by accident last year - LOVED it last year, so we drove down specially for this and are going to stay overnight for both shows!  This is amazing! "    Runner-Up Fave: "Knew we wouldn't be alone in trusting the great River breeze!  There are several hundred people here despite the heat - as word spreads about the great show and the breeze, you're gonna gotta have more nights!- by popular demand!"   And, from the many great comments on our Facebook sites, how about this one from LF:  "WOW! Great show Sunday on the river! Thanks for delving into a part of Shakespeare few dare to tread, the women! (I promptly went home and watched Stage Beauty!) The stars must have been aligned yesterday. Des Moines joined Toronto and the rest of the world with our own Slut Walk. It seems we've come a long way since the days of the Bard. As women know though, we have a ways to go still. Thanks Iowa Shakespeare for keeping real!"  
Bittersweet Moments of 2011:
  •  We gratefully bid farewell to our longtime choreographer, Karina Barone, as  with the close of our season, she prepares to  now take leave of Iowa due to her husband's professional transfer.  Karina has graced the stages of Andrew Lloyd Webber in London and other stages around the world with the likes of Boy George and Gloria Stephan, and we have been truly lucky to have had her develop our great choreography program here in our early years! 
  • Thank you also to the Davis Brown Law firm, for stepping up to the plate to not only support the festival's future but to honor our joint memories of founding Board member Al Greffenius while doing so.  Your newly named Fellowship program, the A. J. Greffenius Memorial Chair in Music,  will  support our trademark musical components in a style that will be meaningful to our fans as well as to Al's special memory.  We will always be grateful.