The Buzz!

Due to ISE's exciting new partnership with historic Terrace Hill, and the 2015 relocation of festival events to that and other new sites, our 2017 Buzz Page content is currently located prominently on ISE's main home page.

Meanwhile the Buzz Page below is from our hit 2014 summer season.  Enjoy reviewing what have been the "hot topics" from prior years (and in many cases, still are!) Note that we update our summer festival information each year in Spring, on or near Shakespeare's April Birthday.  

PHOTO 2009:  Hours and hours of rehearsing go into creating each Festival;
Here, our 2009 Juliet (Amy Burgmaier) and our 2009 Romeo (Aaron Smith)
practise their dance for the Capulet Ball.
Catch Amy now in the New York theatre scene, and catch Aaron in films or with his band. but catch Amy's extraordinary ISE song ("Juliet's Night" from Much Ado Wop About Something) by clicking it on the ISE's great "Sample Us pages" under Audio! Or from the main home page, hit the MP3 Menu on right hand side bar! Don't miss this one- you might just get shivers!
 Current Festival Buzz and "Fan Fare"!


A lot of awesome things have been going on this year with the people who make ISE who it is.  First, we congratulate one of ISE's favorite romantic leads, Matt Wiggins, who recently garnered some very nice honors from Iowa's film industry, including the honor of serving as a Master of Cermony for the Iowa Motion Picture Association. Matt was also elected to the Board of Directors of the Iowa Motion Picture Association.  Congratulations, Matt!  Second, congratulations to our own Lorenzo Sandoval for his very well-received appearance starring this year at the Urbandale Public Library's signature "Dinner with the Authors" event, where he reprised his extremely popular Mark Twain interpretation.

Third, we sadly bid farewell to a favorite ISE actor, Jarrett Brown, as he prepares to go resume the career he'd temporarily left in Oregon, where he was involved in that region's industry of TV commercials.  While Jarrett was here in Iowa, we "discovered" him for ISE ...and he was a hit in each show he was involved with - with audiences and cast members alike!

Jarrett recently sent us this incredibly thoughtful letter:

"... ISE has an immense amount of class ..."

Dear Lorenzo and Robin,

As we discussed the last time we met at the great Des Moines Club special event, I will be moving back to Portland, Oregon this summer, in late June.

It is with great sadness that when I leave Iowa, that I will be leaving all the wonderful people I have met and all the lasting relationships I have built.

And at the top of that list are the folks at Iowa Shakespeare- especially both of you.

So I would really like to take this time to say Thank You to all the Iowa Shakespeare Experience has provided me.

The good times we've had rehearsing and performing 'A Christmas Carol' will forever be etched in my mind and will always be synonymous to my time in Iowa. I won't be able to hear the word Iowa and not think of the work we did together.

And of course when Dracula came along, I was just touched to be considered for a part of it. Then you told me I was getting the role of Jonathan Harker, I was blown away.

I am proud of what we accomplished with Dracula, everybody pulled together and this show stands to date as my favorite theatrical role and my proudest moments in Iowa.

To be invited into Terrace Hill and Jordan House and to now be a part of the history of those houses makes me feel honored. ISE provided that.

  • So I have worked with many writers/directors/producers in the past, but I just want to say, you treat your actors well. You keep a tight ship and let your actors know what is expected of them. You are open and honest and it shows that you have the professional experience to provide audiences with the highest level of theatrical experience. Thank you again.
  • Also, to be able to provide a monetary stipend for your actors and actresses sets you apart and is just another example that ISE has an immense amount of class.
  • In sum, you provided an avenue for me to present my art and to perform, allowing me to do what I love, and that is priceless.
  • In my opinion (feel free to share this with your Board and thank them for all the treats to the Actors) Iowa Shakespeare Experience has been a saving grace for actors in the state of Iowa. You provide superior performances in the most unique of settings.
  • In all my years of work in theater I have never seen anything like it.

But beyond all that, I also want to speak of the good times we had after the performances were done. When Robin would crack a bottle of wine and we would just hang out. We'd talk about life and films, theater, history, or whatever came up. We could laugh and enjoy our time at these unique settings. I thank you for these moments, and providing us with snacks and drinks and for just being so kind.

In sum, I find it difficult to write this email as I am tearing up. As I prepare to leave I remember how well you both have treated me, you are a part of my Iowa family and I wish great things for ISE and the both of you personally.

My time with ISE and the work I have done with you both will be the biggest thing I will miss in Iowa.

Again, I leave in late-June, so please keep me up to date on all happenings involving ISE.

Thank you, thank you, thank you,

Jarrett Brown

 PAST Festival Buzz and "Fan Fare"!

FROM OUR !OTH ANNIVERSARY YEAR OF 2013: WOW!  We've sure been getting a lot of terrific press this summer- the community is responding so well to our growth!  Here are some of the hot topics around the Festival...

FESTIVAL 2013 HAS A FANTASTIC SUMMER LINE UP IN STORE FOR THE METRO! Whether you are into romance or would prefer a gripping drama, our Mainstage show "The Passion of Othello" is a play that's been a Blockbuster hit for over 400 years-its sure to exceed your expectations. 

Or perhaps you prefer the intimate stage and a superb sampler show featuring the best of the best of the Bard! If so, our new Rose Garden Shows at Historic Rollins Mansion will be just the ticket- providing everything from the Bard's most delectable quirky humor to the romance of his poetry - -and not overlooking the insights of his most stunning monologues.  And if you have been longing to relish Ballet and the area's most lauded String Quartet under the evening stars (a more perfect focus for a summer picnic would be hard to find!), we have just the show for you! 

So whether you're a newcomer to the Bard or a major fan, whether you want a chance to explore the classic arts for free or are a committed fan, you will find multiple delights this year in our outstanding 2013 Fifth Anniversary Season, where Shakesperience Festival gives birth to its new name: Iowa's Shakesperience Festival of the Classic Arts.


And on THIS page, you find all the "scoop" and "Bard Buzz"

that goes into making such an amazing and every growing classic arts festival! 

Welcome to our news!

And don't miss our "Hot Photo" section below!


HOT NEWS:  Break out the Champagne!  ISE celebrates TWO Milestone Anniversaries - and a brand New Name!

Have you heard? ISE's 2013 Festival Season marks our 5th Season Anniversary of producing Festival-style Shakespeare for FREE (depsite Recession, floods and record weather events of all kinds...) AND our 10th year Anniversary of producing top-quality Shakespeare Al Fresco!  In honor of these relatively rare achievements for any new arts non-profit, we are expanding the Festival further into our mission- - and giving the Festival a brand new name!  ISE's Shakesperience Fest is becoming ISE's Shakesperience Festival of the Classic Arts! HUZZAH! 

HOT NEWS:  We've made The Lists! 

Have you heard?  ISE is making some great lists these days:

  • Des Moines Register 2013; Top 99 Things to Do in Summer in Iowa!
  • dsm Magazine 2013; 11 of the Decade's "Most Visionay" Metro projects; Top 40 of the Decades' Arts Achievements
  • Cityview 2013: Festival Expansion into showcase of the classical arts represents a "Trifecta" of some of the Metro's most notable arts presenters:  ISE, Ballet Des Moines, Des Moines Civic Music Association
  • DSM Radio Group:  Top 5 Things to Do (summer 2012)!
  • Iowa Arts Council: 4 "Top Ten" in Iowa Awards in only our first four years!

plus: Scads of Des Moines Register, Datebook and Cityview lists of weekly picks, Six picks, Cityview Picks, and related! (EVERY year since our founding!)

HOT NEWS:  ISE expands - Welcome Aboard Edwina Brandon!

The term may not quite come from the Bard, but still: the only word for this news is: WOW! ISE is absolutely delighted to announce the return of a familiar -and even fairly legendary- face in the world of top leadership in the Metro's arts scene: former Founding ISE Board member Edwina Brandon.  Perhaps best known for her instrumental role as the Art Center's recent Development whiz, Ms. Brandon was the staff person responsible for the Art Center's unprecendentedly successful 34 Million Dollar Fundaising campaign. This talented leader's profile in the arts preceeded her work in the Metro and also follows her elsewhere all over the country - so let's just say she knows her way around the Arts inside and out - - and she is welcomed by the Metro's top leaders everywhere she goes. Indeed, Edwina's work has been so impressive that she was recently picked up by the nation's largest Arts Consulting Agencies, which maintains a string of offices up and down both Coasts.

Accordingly, ISE is so pleased to announce that on the occaision of ISE's Milestone 10th and 5th Anniversaries, Ms. Brandon (who originally got her start in the arts specifically in theatre) has signed a formal two-year Contract to come back on Board with ISE in a new capacity - as our part time Development Consultant.  Ms. Brandon will be maintaining her office in California but making regular conference calls plus extended quarterly trips to Des Moines to manage, advise and shape ISE's continued financial growth, especially a carefuly thought out new Corporate Sponsorship campaign, and ISE's first major Signature party initiative. The savvy know that long-lasting sponsorship and corporate relations do best when implemented in a long-term, carefully sequenced manner, so we are very confident that in late 2014 or early 2015, the rewards coming in will appear to be what they are not: an overnight sensation! (But a nicely long lasting one!)

HOT NEWS:  Huzzah! ISE celebrates major new Sponsorships

Wecome Aboard Iowa Public Radio and Des Moines Radio Group!  ISE is thrilled to announce two major new media Sponsors, who join our original media sponsors at Cityview to extend ISE's marketing even further, with significant benefits to all parties!  Festival Fans should especially watch for ISE's upcoming major radio campaign to air on Iowa Public Radio during both drive times - it should be an exciting way to get the news out about our growing festival!  With these new partnerships along with our original and now longtime partners in print media such as Big Green Media, ISE's communication reach now extends into 100% of Iowa major media markets!  Since Shakespeare Festivals are a proven tourism draw, the growing reach of this Festival should have growing tourism enhancement benefits for our community.

173.jpgHOT NEWS:  ISE celebrates two New Residencies - ISE's "Theatre at the Great Esates" series grows!

Our fifth anniversary has brought tons of exciting new developments to ISE as a still very young non-profit, and we are so grateful to the community for its support!  ISE has now accepted two additional invitations to produce in extensive residencies in collaboration with two more regional historic estates.  In addition to our long-standing partnership with the Iowa Governor's Mansion of historic Terrace Hill (where we will produce our 9th show the December!), ISE will be in extended residency this fall at historic Jordan House in West Des Moines, where we will produce our new annual fall show, Cabaret Macabaret this coming October.  It will be a perfect combination of everyone's favorite Gothic writers plus Iowa's favorite Gothic Victorian Estate- all after dark by candlelight, for thrills and chills galore! Then in late winter, following our extraordinary new show this summer set in the Rollins Mansion Rose Garden, ISE will produce our new "Fireside Series" - featuring the Metro's first "Emerging Directors" showcase.  A sophisticated evening of wine and the dramatic arts- plus plenty of opportunities for audience interaction, all in one of THE most elegant and welcoming Estates in Iowa - - made of beams under which Shakespeare once legendarily performed.  Quite a line up - quite a fifth anniversary season!

HOT NEWS:  2013 sees ISE launch our all-state Talent Showcase! 

As has been part of ISE's strategic plan since our founding, in Year Five of the Festival, ISE is branching out!  We always will showcase the best of the best of local talent on our stages, and our roster of artists appearing with us in the last 10 years is proof of that.  Indeed, per show,ISE shows typically average 3-4 MFA Theatre Artists (similar to a performance Doctorate) and about twice as many fully degreed BFA or Conservatory theatre artists. 

However, in 2013, ISE has also begun to implement a new talent program whereby we will offer these immensely talented performers the chance to grow their resumes (and our audiences the chance to deepen their appreciation of the arts in Iowa) by bringing in a growing "star system" of artists to elevate our performances further. 

A "star system" (as it is typically understood) is where "big name" or especially talented out-of-town or Equity actors appear as a partial anchor to a given show, enhancing the artistic experience of the local Actors as well as the experience of the audience.  ISE's first step into the world of beyond-the-Metro was truly a giant step - with the appearance of the leading Shakespearean Actor in America, Golden Globe winner Stacy Keach, on our stage during a 2011 Community Fundraising Dinner. There, thanks to Mr. Suku Radia and 19 of the community's leading corporate citizens, the overall vision, achievements and potential of ISE were first revealed to major community leaders in an unforgettable way.  Our Artstic Director shared the stage with Mr.Keach - - first Lorenzo's vision was introduced to the community, and then Mr. Keach presented an original script he'd personally written for the event.  [You can see a few pictures from this lovely event in our slide show or read Keach interviews and media stories about the event -and see more photos- at the Keach page off our Home page.]

ISE's next step into offering the Metro the "best of the best" talent on our stage was taken this summer.  This summer we've now launched initial partnerships with leading schools of theatre all around the state of Iowa.  Although we are starting with small manageable steps this year, we expect soon to be  offering talent auditions and housing and work options to top students studying theatre at the MFA and other University levels all across across Iowa. 

For this year, we have focused on placing students from Iowa's premier school of theatre at the University of Iowa.  In that capacity, welcome Heidi Bibler (a Des Moines native who returns to family in the area) and Valeria Avina.  ISE is proud to introduce or re-introduce both of the fine telents to the Metro community!

HOT NEWS: ISE's inaugural out-of-town talent placement program also kicks off!

In particular, as Valeria  Avina has no native Des Moines base, we welcome Valeria into our inaugural ISE out-of-town talent placement program.  Valeria comes to us from the nationally-recognized University of Iowa MFA Candidacy Program, where she recently recieved her bid to continue her work towards her MFA. (MFA candidates at this school cannot continue beyond a first year probationary program except by invitation only.)

We think Metro audiences are going to love getting to know Valeria! Although of course we had no idea how perfect her background as a first generation Mexican immigrant was for our particular 2013 show when she first auditioned (see program notes about our Othello show and its special ties to Iowa immigration issues), we did know Valeria had amazing talent.  Valeria is impressive veteran of the national competitive artistic talent search URTA (University Restident Theatre Association), the nation's oldest and largest consortium of professional theatre training programs. URTA fosters competitive auditon-based placement across the country from a pool of more than 1000 acting candidates per year, including many who are students of prestigious undergraduate programs or conservatories, winners of various national competitions, or members of the Actors Equity Association.  So Valeria's entry into Iowa already merits our top congratulatoins - and she will take the ISE stage by storm. 

We think Iowa audiences will fall in love with this new Iowa-nurtured talent - - and will be astonished at how much coincidental but happy insight Valeria's personal origins as a first generation Mexican Immigrant to Iowa brings to our particular 2013 show.  Don't thou miss it!  This is synergy long to be remembered!

HOT NEWS:  2013 sees a new direction in the Al Greffinius Memorial Chair in music program, generously sponsored by Davis Brown Law Firm, to help ISE continue our growth into national models of producing Shakespeare.  Nationally one of the single largest hot trends in the production of Shakespeare is to infuse music into his plays- the way the Bard himself did back during the time now known as "original practice".  ISE has accordingly made the infusion of music into our shows one of our hallmark practices, especially because it is a practice that typically helps expand diversity in audience appreciation of the Bard, as well as very explici form of true authentic spirit in production. 

This year, the Greffinius Chair goes to ISE's own Lorenzo Sandoval, to support his inclusion of period Folk music in our Mainstage Othello show, as well as to various musical Artists who will be appearing on all 4 ISE stages this summer!  Not only would the Bard approve, but so would have Al himself!  We are proud to produce this music in memory of a dear founder and long time festival friend. 

HOT NEWS:  "Neither a borrower nor a lender be"- no, we take that back! And then some! Well Fargo Employees have nominated their work with ISE for Wells Fargo NATIONAL Volunteer of the Year Awards.  THANK YOU to our key volunteers from Wells Fargo for their untiring work that has so greatly assisted in the development of Shakesperience Festival!  ISE is so honored to be under consideration in relationship to these prestigious awards- we'll keep our yellow garters crossed!  

HOT NEWS:  "The Queen doth keep her Revels here tonight!" Tina Haase Findlay celebrates 5 years of free concerts - and her remarkable original songs- at the Festival!  Tina needs, of course, no introduction to the Metro scene.  This legendary First lady of Fab has headlined on EVERY major festival stage in the region, from the Des Moines Arts Festival to countless Jazz in Julys- and even to singing the star-spangled banner with none other than Simon Estes at the Fourth of July Syphony Pops.  But in addition to her many claims to fame, Festival Fans will know that Tina was also our first Festival Musical Director, appearing herself in our star-spangled "Midsumer Night's Dream Extravaganza".  And even when not directly involved in our shows due to her increasingly busy career, Tina and her husband Brandon have kindly written one original song each year for the Shakesperience Festival, performing it themselves during their unbeatable pre-show mini concerts.  From "Hell hath no Fury" written for Taming of the Shrew to "If These Shadows Have Offended", Tina's songs are magical, marvelous and such an incredible git to ISE.  Its oh-so-talented Artists like Tina - -who have embraced the Festival and ISE in such meaningful and important ways- - that have made the Festival what it is growing to be!  So ISE is delighted to announce that despite how rare a local Tina concert is these days (due to her increasingly regional presence all around the Midwest) once again this loyal friend will be back to sing pre-show concerts for Shakesperience Fest 2013Watch for her espeically on the evening of July 19th during pre-show!  We couldn't ask for a better anniversary present than Tina's fifth successive appearance with us- - and we are sure, neither could our fans!  Thank you to The Tina!

HOT NEWS:  A Classic Arts "Triumvirate" is born! Have you heard?  In an expansive piece by Cityview's Summer Arts and Entertainment editor, ISE's new expanded prior partnerships with our long time collaborators Des Moines Civic Music Association and Ballet Des Moines.  And our new ongoing partnership at the festival was termed a "trifecta" of the classic arts, which certainly has a nice ring!  But whichever word we apply to this synergistic new growth, audiences already quite agree: the Metro is ready to be taken by storm by this great new offering at the Festival!  In sum, in honor of our fifth anniversary, the festival celebrates by mounting a new program and sporting a new name.  Now to be the "Shakesperience Festival of the Classic Arts", the festival will showcase the other classic arts which Shakespeare helped foster by providing an annual FREE full-length al fresco showcase production of our colleagues in the classic arts - from Poetry to String Quartet to Ballet.  With a one-night only performance of "Starry Starry Nite:  Ballet, Belin and the Bard" to kick off the series this summer on Saturday July 13, get those candlabra ready! Because there are going to be so many festival occaisions to pack up the picnic and relax and enjoy: THE BEST NIGHTS OF SUMMER!

HOT NEWS:  Announcing ISE's Fifth Anniversary "class" of new Board members!  In honor of our 5th Anniversary, ISE is opening its Board positions to its first major Board expansion since we were founded.  Having been so ably and meaningfully led by our original founders for fully 5 years (a team of close knit well-recognized area arts leaders who will still ontinue to give so much strategically and personally to ISE as we go forward) this Spring ISE issued a new round of Board invitations to another select group of community leaders- and the response has been tremendous!  This June ISE brought on 7 new Board members; community leaders all- with the expectation of announcing a few more fairly soon!  ISE is in terrific hands!  

HOT PHOTO: (photos coming soon)

Lorenzo's Distinctive Acting Award in Film  

Robin flies the Guy Wire Motorcycle at National Theatre Association Conference

(let loose my flying monkeys!)

© 2018 Iowa Shakespeare Experience