The Theatre Show(s)!

PHOTO 2009 The legendary singer Tina Haase Findlay, our Musical Director for IES's first two seasons, performs one of the original songs she wrote for each of our first five festival shows, in our 2009 take on Taming of the Shrew,
with the song: "Hell hath no Fury (like a woman scorned)"

ISE's Summer Shakespeare shows:

What you UN-expect!

Huzzah!  Do we have a great 2017 line up for Thou this year!
There will NOT be another ISE season quite like this one!
Don't Thou Miss It- These Nights Speak to You!
"Lady Macbeth and Her Pal, Megan",
by Megan Gogerty

What happens when a wholesome, sunny Iowan is told she is too much like the human equivalent of a loveable puppy to be cast as the dark, brooding, powerful figure of Lady Macbeth?

Well... (Spoiler...) its MURDER


Using "stand up" comedic style and terrific theatrical flair, lauded actress and author Megan Gogerty brings her own original play to life in an unforgettable way!  As she struggles with what it would mean to be cast as Lady Macbeth, she finds she must challenge her own preconceptions of the role- and ours!  And she meets a few other of Shakespeare's most famous characters along the way.  

But wait- there's more!  Because just as Shakespeare used his plays to comment on the social and political issues of his time, in "Lady Macbeth", Megan too offers up challenging (and FUNNY!) insights on what it means to be a woman today, and about our current culture.  So with a new administration in the White House and with all sorts of new culture challenges unfolding during our present day, "Lady Macbeth" is even more of a must-see show than ever!

But don't just take our word for it!  Here's what critics are sayiing about this award-winning play (which just won the "Audience Choice" award at the Cincinatti Fringe and which is en-route next to the most famous Arts Festival in the world: the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, where this show lands this August!):

The Little Village publication of Iowa City raved: Lady Macbeth and Her Pal, Megan is chock full of jokes...Hiding behind the innocent mask of ‘comic monologist,’  however, Gogerty is armed to the teeth, hurtling razor blades of sharp insight at a variety of targets: the patriarchy, the entertainment industry and the ingrained hypocrisy that leads us to treat an ambitious man as a strong, crusading hero and an ambitious women as cruel, conniving and shrill. 

And the Iowa Theatre Blog says, Come for the comedy, and stay for the life changing moments...Trust me this is a show you do not want to miss. Its powerful, and empowering, and poignant. And it’s really, really funny."

Megan Gogerty in 
"Lady Macbeth and Her Pal, Megan" -

- What would Shakespeare say?
Spoiler warning:
"She'll SLAY ya!"


SHOW 2016

- - A one of a kind evening 


Date Night, Friends and Family - - 








-The 2016 4 x 400 Performance features our

internationally acclaimed Marquee Headliner

Romeo and Juliet Thrice Told Tales plus

3 other original ISE plays and sets-




In 2015 we offered:

Puck Presents:  

A vision of

Midsummer Masterpieces, Music and Magic


"I have had a most rare vision; I have had a dream..."

William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream Act IV



a new program of Starry Summer Nights on 

the Great Lawn of

The Iowa Governor's Mansion!

Produced by The Iowa Shakespeare Experience 




A smorgasbord sampling of festival fun 

personally hosted by 

Iowa's First Lady


featuring all-Iowa professional Artists performing:


The humor and beauty of William Shakespeare 


the other classical art forms he influenced.


Come enjoy a delightful, picnic-friendly line up of 


Snippets and Sonnets

along with tastes of 

The Masterworks

Slices of live Opera, Lyrical Ballet, and more

including an array of musically-presented selections from 

Literary Classics


Our 2015 pilot show is designed as a Sampler

Of all the many new tracts which we’ll continue to grow in

Shakesperience Festival

As we go forward. 


A key feature of our expanding festival includes enlarging our

all-Iowa visiting Artist Program

into a new



To SHOWCASE the arts in Iowa


This is a new program

which Iowa’s First Family will help sponsor every year


So ISE’s 2015 pilot show will include a taster sampling of Iowa’s



Special guest artist

the Award-Winning

Karin Stein

of Grinnell, Iowa

along with Sneak Peeks of her new 

national touring show:


An Iowa Arts Council project



Don’t miss the Featured Appearance of

Iowa’s classic Diva singing star

Ms. Tina Haase Findlay

(accompanied by her husband, guitarist Brandon Finday)


It doesn’t get much more classic than Tina,

One of Iowa’s true Jazz Legends –

A lady whose not only headlined virtually every Iowa summer festival-

But the luminary who served as Shakesperience Festival’s first Musical Director,

Tina’s appearance tonight will feature one of the

original Shakespeare-inspired songs she’s written for the festival.


And - -

have you heard?

Tina and Brandon just won

The right to represent Iowa at the upcoming

National Blues Showcase in Knoxville!


Talk about presenting Iowa’s



Tina, Brandon and Karin are “it”!


See you at the ever-expanding

Shakesperience Festival of the Classical Performing Arts…

The 2015 Pilot show forecasting

Future Festival Growth!








Wednesday, July 8

Picnics starting at 5:30

One Act Show at 7:00

In the event of rain, show will be held indoors at Terrace Hill



But must register to attend:

Register for your FREE Tickets starting June 22 at 

(No physical tickets will be mailed- your name will be on a list at the festival gates!)


The Evening includes an opportunity for providing 

Public Input 

into future festival plans 

that will continue to unfold next summer

on the grounds of Terrace Hill!


See our homepage for further information about upcoming plans to

Continue growth at Terrace Hill


Resume programs for city parks like Simon Estes Amphitheatre, suburban parks …

and soon, other Parks all across Iowa, too!

(END of 2015 Show Information)



Review of ISE's past Productions:
(Now in a coooool NEW Month: JUNE!)

ISE's music and dance graced adaptation of

Friday June 6
(Suburban preview show)
Wednesday - Friday June 11-13
(Simon Estes Amphitheater)

Things are really "heating up" for summer 2014 - and for a true Blockbuster show like The Tempest, ya wouldn't want it any other way!


The Tempest features all that we love most about Shakespeare!  This Adventure Comedy is a love story that involves the "Four Shakespearean "R's":
Royalty ~ Romance ~ Revenge ~ and ~ Reconciliation

Be transported to a mystical island where we'll encounter exotic fantastical creatures
(Everything from Fairy-winged Sprites to an amazing Magical Monster!)
as we explore Wizardry and Hi-Jinks...
Young Love...
and one heck of a Stormy Sea!

(For Director's Notes about ISE's "Tempestuous", see below!)


ISE's Season 2014 continues our gradual expansion into showcasing
not "just" Shakespeare, but the other classical art forms he influenced.

In 2014 we present a FREE Nightly Intermission show featuring
A Lyrical Opera Sampler

Featuring works from the European Tour of Coluratura Soprano
Marie Schmidt, MM
ISE's 2014
Davis-Brown-Greffenius Guest Artist in Music

2014 also showcases lyrical ballet and dance directly within the show;
featuring the dance choreography of
Sara Lyons.


For our 2014 version of The Tempest, ISE sets the story outside of time -- beyond the reaches of time or any limited hisotorical view of history.  Because the Tempest is a beautiful play—a masterpiece - which refueses to be bound by convention- - instead, rewarding the audience on a number of different levels.

First, this fabulous story entertains - - and entertains to a high degree.  Quite simply -its charming. That's because The Tempest creates a world largely informed by magic, romance and comedy. On an island seemingly at the end of the world Prospero and Ariel practice fanciful wizardry, Miranda and Ferdinand delight in a pure and optimistic love, and Caliban plots revenge in uproarious missteps while discovering the joys of wine.

 And second, at the same time, this play has depth. It gives us serious, substantive themes of forgiveness and reconciliation, for there are certainly sins that have been committed that require acknowledgement and penance. Notably arising from the play’s whirl of colorful conspiracies, combative action, and feisty language is an intriguing question: Is it only the obvious “bad guys” who really need to apologize?

We readily comprehend that Antonia’s greed and murderous inclination is bad. We can certainly understand that King Alonso’s choice was a bad one when he aided and abetted Antonia’s plan to wrest power from a (presumably) irreproachable Prospero. We can be critical of a Caliban who plots to kill Prospero and impose his nasty intentions on virginal Miranda. And we can frown on Ariel’s constant teasing and tormenting of Caliban.

But what are we to make of Prospero’s vengeance?

To be fair, he is the play’s protagonist; we root for him because he knows—and, most important—we know he has been gravely sinned against. He suffers deep emotional and existential wounds. It is difficult for him to forget—let alone forgive—his enemies who, twelve years earlier, had taken away his duchy and unceremoniously dumped him and his little daughter on a mostly-uninhabited island.

Though it is evident he has created a remarkable life (he has become a master of the magical arts, he has a beautiful adoring daughter and he is essentially lord of an island) Prospero is not completely satisfied. Clearly, he does not possess the power he formerly had. Twelve years before, he ruled over a land of presumably normal human subjects. Presently, he rules a land of misfits and the misshapen.

The anger he harbors is as outsized as his magical powers. Naturally, when opportunity has placed near his island a ship bearing his enemies, Prospero is all too eager to spring into vengeful action. Indeed, his vengeance is horrific. The passengers spill into a frightful, stormy sea and, believing their ship to be wrecked, they wander dazedly on Prospero’s strange island. One of the party, King Alonso, believes his son, Ferdinand, is dead. Sadly, poetically, Ferdinand is stranded on another part of the island and he believes his father, Alonso, is dead. But, we soon learn that the shipwreck and perceptions of death are all an illusion masterfully created by Prospero. Though the sting of apparent tragic death is lessened by our knowledge of the illusion, the vengeful methods Prospero has chosen rightly disturb us.

They also disturb a non-human in the play. Ariel is deeply affected by the painful impact of Prospero’s magic on the shipwrecked wanderers. But he does not comment in a scolding way; rather, he expresses his thoughts poignantly. His unvarnished words and plaintive mood put mirrors up to the old wizard’s nature and stop him cold. I will not spoil this wonderful moment of theatre for you by giving too many details.

But I will leave you with this: I would like to think that Prospero does not really want the apex of his magical powers to be mastery of the forces of nature so that he can ultimately master all people. I believe that above all he wants the power to recognize and deal with his own flawed nature. That is a daunting task of Himalayan proportions.

By mastering that, Prospero can effect a far greater impact on humanity while achieving a blessed inner peace. He knows he will experience a most magical transformation when his being fuses with moral excellence.

As Katherine Wormer writes in her excellent paper on restorative justice: “Just as calls for retribution often bring out the baser instincts in people, a focus on restoration and empowerment also tends to bring out the best in human nature.”

Third- pure and simple: Shakespeare really got it right with this play. It challenges the mind and stirs the heart. Written near the end of his theatrical career, The Tempest is widely believed to be the last play the Bard wrote alone. Some feel its final scenes contain Shakespeare's own final farewell to the stage.  So the Tempest is above all, a multi-facted way of engaging with Shakespeare.

And we promise;  as usual, our music-and-dance graced version of The Tempest ("Tempestuous") will be unforgettable.  Our interpretation of the famous Monster Caliban alone is a compelling reason to come down and see the show.

So, enjoy it. Simply sit back - and enjoy.  Enjoy the park, the river, the skyline and our art. And please stop by the gates at the end of the evening and say “hi” to our cast and crew. We'd love to see you - and chat more!

Lorenzo Sandoval
Artistic Director

Iowa Shakespeare Experience









406px-Thomas_Keene_in_Othello_1884_Poster.JPGFIFTH ANNIVERSARY FESTIVAL SHOWs

Featuring ISE's
The Passion of Othello

The famous story of Othello is hands down, one of the all time great Shakespearean tragedies- and one of the most amazing Shakespearean stories ever penned. The play which gave rise to the imagery of the "green eyed monster" has been world-wide hit for over 400 years. As one of its most famous quotes goes, this is a story of a man "who loved not wisely, but loved too well."
This story of Othello expresses more complex (and sometimes unfathomable) human behavior than perhaps does any other Shakespearean story, as it details honest love, betrayal, love, jealousy, love, doubt, love, hatred and love yet again - -in a tale of love... a tale of love on the edge of madness.  It is a true tale of passion - in so many senses of the word.
Othello's story expresses and explores passions which each and every single one of us is likely to have felt (or to yet feel) in our lives.  The story operates on multiple planes at once (just as we do in life) and is at once a cross-generational story of May and December romance (our first loves- and our last loves) yet also a story of painful racial prejudice.  And it is perhaps above all a story of inexplicable jealousy all across the Board- jealous fear that a lover is straying, jealous betrayal from a so-called best friend, jeaolousy of career advances we feel should be ours - and what we do with such jealousies.  Its a story of a "Frenemy" long before that word was coined. Thus it is a story also of loss.  Heatrending, horrific - even stunning- loss.
ISE's version of this extraordinary story thus has multiple dimensions, and is as special as is the tale.  For starters, one layer of our show is the way in which some of the region's most seasoned veterans of the stage will form a rich head-to-head match up with some of the region's most promising young actors.  Audiences will clearly see the May-December elements of Shakespeare's vision. Also, not just one but two highly experienced Shakespearean directors share the directing helm as Co-Directors (ISE's Lorenzo Sandoval and the noted James Serpento), to make sure the full depth of the story in told. 
And in yet another layer on top of this, with special funding from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, ISE will take the element of racial prejudice in the story to new territory - - our version of the story is specifically designed to subtley illuminate Iowa's ongoing issues with Mexican immigration.
HERES THE LOW DOWN: ISE's play adaptations always present at least 85% Shakespearean "authoritative" text as it generally is known today, but oh, what a skilled playwrite  - -like ISE's Artistic Director Lorenzo Sandoval- - can do with that other 15 percent!  
First, Lorenzo performs an exhaustive study of the original text that results in a bit of smoothing out of the most archaic and truly incomprehensible text (virtually all Shakespeare plays have some- text that without an dictionary of old English terms is simply not going to be understood by today's reader due to permanent language changes in terms of meaning of certain common words.)  
As Golden Globe Award winning Stacy Keach (one of the leading Shakespearean Actors in America) has noted in his 2011 quote about ISE's work to the Des Moines Business Record while here to support ISE in keeping the festival free, this practice (increasingly common on the part of most of the country's leading Shakespeare Directors) makes certain play idiosyncracies much better understood to modern ears -while in skilled hands like Lorenzo's, still preserving 100% of the poetry of the writing.  By the way, for a utterly fascinating and thorough discussion of that practice, don't miss the work of linguist John McWhorter in ISE's White Paper section, accessible off of our primary home page in Chapter 8 of the Site Menu: iSE SCHOLARLY WORK; Adaptations to Shakespeare.)
Second, Sandoval also researches other works related to the era as well as related to the way in which these Shakespearean stories have been variously told across history - for most of Shakespeare's stories have been told both before Shakespeare's time - as well as in various ways after him - be that on stage or in music or dance.  From this  research, Lorenzo selects an overarching approach in which to present the work.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, Lorenzo subscribes to that noted element of theatrical practice which holds that Directors and actors should also strive to bring new, fresh insights into theatrical works -- to "add to the Cannon" -- rahter than to merely regurgitate by rote the works or interpretations of others.  This ensures that audiences will ever find new richness in these famed works- - and we ourselves will not stage a play in the same way twice. 
Thus, for ISE's Othello, via the process above, Lorenzo has elected to bring to this particular presentation of the play a fairly personal story - a story personal not just to him, but to scores of Mexican American immigrants living in the great state of Iowa.  For where in Shakespeare's original play, Othello was a black (African) Moor battling prejudice as he rose throught the ranks to become a great General, in ISE's 2013 tale, Othello is a "black indio" (as they were called, meaning darkest brown) or native Mexican Indian, who rises from there through the ranks to become the great general Othello.  Indeed, although typically behind the scenes or in smaller roles, for this amazing show Lorenzo himself will take center stage in the lead role of Othello - bringing his own personal experiences with racial intolerance into the exciting mix. 
So our 2013 Mainstage Othello production will be set directly in Old Victorian-era Mexico.  And in and of itself, ike way in which the film "Like Water for Chocolate" fought steriotypic shallow presentations of Mexican life in its own way, this is a presentation of Old Mexico that is far from the steriotypic and tired Mexican images of Sombreros and Cactus.  For in true Old Mexico, as around the world, this Victorian era was a time of genteel women in beautiful lace gowns,  a classic time of flirtations with fans, and a time of dashing Victorian generals in all manner of military finery- all set against the courtyards and palaces of the Victorian era in a land of the softest and most seductive of moonlit summer nights. 
But there is more to the story still - and it is amazing!  You see, ISE's interpretation of the story is actually not "just a story"!  For ISE's particular interpretive adaptation holds elements of quite a true story - in that sense of the word.  This particular show is a story of life meets art meets life, and as the saying goes, therein lies a tale!
You see, the classic story of Othello's rise through prejudice (to encounter still more prejudice) almost exactly parallels many of the elements of the story of real life legendary Mexican hero Benito Juarez!  Because just like the Othello character, Mr. Juarez was very dark skinned, a native Mexican Oaxacan Indian (Indio) who rose up to the very tip top of Society- in fact, he became the Mexican President in the mid 1800s.  And just like Othello, he too encountered sometimes great resistence, not the least of which was prejudice against his very dark coloring.  Thus, ISE set the tale in Mr. Juarez's time- a setting that should have a bit of an extra kick for those who know of the cautionary and true historic tale of Benito Juarez.
So, this particular ISE show has many deeply intriguing layers, and from all of those vantage points, we're moving ahead with great excitement! We'll have rich period costumes and choreography, stunning Spanish music inluding old, old Mexican folk ballads, and classic instrumentals - ALL the trimmings! 
And oh, wow- then there is also the knife fighing!  Remember those truly breathtaking fight scenes in ISE's 2012 Romeo and Juliet? Choreographed by our remarkable Romeo of that show, Mr. Nick Toussaint (who has since moved on to the Chicago theatre scene) ISE is again very fortunate ...Nick will be returing briefly to Des Moines specifically to assist ISE with the fight choreography for this particular show as well.  ISE is extremely luck to get to have Nick choreograph Othello- hang on to your bonnet - it is going to be one heck on an exciting show!   [Did you know that Bowie knives were one of the several historically-correct period details that we are working on with this script?  You bet: We've been on it!]
Finally, we also have a few exciting note about our casting for this particular show which bring even more depth to this production.  We already mentioned that our Artistic Director Lorenzo Sandoval, himself Latino, has done the play adaptation for this show - - but on top of that, Lorenzo will also himself be taking on the title role of Othello as we conceive it here, a story of a Benito Juarez like figure who rose despite prejudice to top leadership of his country only to encounter resistance with skin color at its heart. 
But in addition to our casting of Lorenzo, this show marks ISE's debut of our new statewide talent outreach program, where we are developing partnerships with companies all across Iowa, as well as with schools such as University of Iowa - -with the aim to begin presenting statewide Iowa talents on our stages.  And thus for this show we found a few more terrific casting additions that add to the inherent fabric of this amazing show.
Indeed, one of the Iowa Guest Artist talents joining us this summer has particular signficant for this particular show.  For this show, the lead role of Amelia will be played by Valeria Avina.  Valeria is a MFA candidate (second year. an MFA in the world of theatre is a terminal degree analogous to a doctorate) at the famed theatre school of the University of Iowa, and coming as she did to U of I through the national competitions of URTA (where she was auditioning in the enormous URTA feild of over 1000 of the nation's best talents) she is of course a terrific actress in her own right. 
But in terms of this particular show of ISE's 2013 Othello, it bears noting that Amelia herself comes to Iowa directly from Durango Mexico - a first generation Mexican immigrant.  Thus, her personal life experiences as both a native Mexican as well as an immigre to Iowa will add an extraordinary amount of unique depth to this particular interpretation of a story that still rings from the headlines today.
Joining Valeria on the Mainstage will also be two additional Actresses from stages across Iowa.  Ensuring that this show has the wealth of young ingenue talent that it needs for the May-December story elements to properly unfold, ISE is so pleased to welcome to the show the shimmering talents of Heidi Bibler from the theatre department of the University of Iowa, and of April Culver, a BFA graduate from Des Moines' own Drake University.  Heidi takes on the sultry Bianca - - and April will take on the famous role of Desdemonia... we think you are really going to want to see all of these actresses in action!
So be sure not to miss this show, produced with special funding from the Iowa Arts Council!  This will be one where ISE's mission to "open the classics to the diversity of American culture, using Shakespeare as our standard and inspiration" really shines!




When the organization which is now known as ISE was founded a decade ago, locally-produced Shakespeare had largely been absent from Metro stages for another entire decade prior.  Believing that the best way to develop a robust local audience for Shakespeare was not neccessarily to drop a Hamlet on a community which had not engaged with the Bard in some time, initially ISE developed multiple forms of outreach to audiences - -and has been excited to see local appetite for Shakespeare's works steadily grow. 
Accordingly, last year in 2012, Iowa Shakespeare was quite excited to present the first major Shakespearean tragedy to be professionally produced (lights, sound, special effects, the works!) on a featured local stage by a local company in nearly two decades: and our presentation of perhaps Shakespeare's most beloved play ever, Romeo and Juliet, was a resounding hit with critics and fans alike!
Said one reviewer (Michael Morrain of the Arts and Cultural beat with the Des Moines Register):  Director Sandoval's musical selections gave the show "a touch of cinematic weight" and the production was "a play that pulls you in - - even when you know how it will end." 
But deft as ISE is when it comes to producing the tragedies, the audience may be interested to note that there is a reason the tragedies are not as common for local productions as are the comedies: these plays present rich challenges for any local theatre company given their complexity and multiple moving parts - - and ISE is up for it!  Did you know?  With the type of Rapier swordfighting work that was required for our full Renaissance production of Romeo and Juliet last year, standard theatre guidelines require at least a full MONTH of rehearsals for every MINUTE of swordfighting on stage, so that the fights are safe for both audience and actor!  And that type of complexity takes place in Othello too, with a knife fight and other types of challenging and very physical scenes that we dare not mention here ...lest it be a spoiler. 
So simply rest assured- this is one show with the type of twists and turns that you are gonna want to see- and our Actors will have been working very hard to bring you the best of the best in that regard!  See you at the Festival!
In the 5th Anniversary year of Shakesperience Fest, ISE was proud to be able to grow the Festival increasingly towards our vision for it as a robust festival far from just a single play, similar to the Repertory festivals we visit all over the country which produce the work of the Bard and other classic authors al fresco.  Still a very very young non-profit (founded merely 2 months prior to the start of the Recession at that!) and having had everything from Recession to floods to the hottest weather in 25 years thrown at us just to keep it interesting, ISE is proud of how we've nevertheless rapidly grown, and even thrived, through out these whalloping challenges. 
Thus, 2013 was a pivotal anniversary year, so we are now begining to expand the festival into a closer approximation of our overall vision for it.  Certainly we still have a ways to go, but 2013 provided the community with a sample of our vision:  we implemented programming on3 great stages, with 4 terrific shows, and provided 8 full nights of theatre in true Reportory in store for the celebratory 5th Season - - an extraordinary achievement for a tiny company.  So we are begining to be well on our way to the type of al fresco summer theatre and fine arts festival the Metro has not yet experienced. HUZZAH

The other classical arts shows of Season 2013

FREE: Starry Starry Night:  Ballet, Belin and the Bard 2013


In the May 2013 issue of Cityview's huge Summer Arts and Entertainment Preview, the Cityview Editor described the robust new partnership being formed by ISE, Ballet Des Moines and the Belin String Quartet (of Des Moines Civic Music Assocation) as having created a "trifecta" of some of the region's most noted classic arts organizations - and this show, in honor of ISE's 5th Anniversary, is pointing the way to the future growth of the festival as ISE continues to grow into its mission.  Having worked closely with both organizations in the past, ISE is gratified to have a chance to begin to grow the festival towards other broad, al fresco classic arts festivals like Chicago's Ravinia and New York or Boston's Tanglewood.  This show will kick off that growth with a bang.   A picnic-friendly collage of the classic arts of String Quartet and Ballet with a throughline taken from the Bard and laced with some of Shakespeare's great scenes, this show was a terrific way to celebrate summer - audiences grabbed their sweethearts and a picnic basket withbest linen napkins, mett up with friends along the riverwalk - -and even brought the kids.  There was something for everyone and especially, there was a moonlit night to remember as the Metro freshly experienced these great organizations the way the Greeks performed their art- under the stars - so that (as they believed) "the gods could see them better".  That's the same type of lyrical, mystical summer night wind magic we provided in our special fifth anniversary season, summer of 2013t! 
ISE's Best of the Bard
ShakeScenes and Sonnets
Historic Rollins Mansion


Our summer 2013 Rollins Mansion show begs a bit of backstory, because this show points the way to continued festival growth - and continued ISE growth- in a most exciting manner!
You see- if once a year is great, then all throughout the year is better- and ISE is excited to continue to grow into a year-round producing theatre agency in the manner of the business model of most free summer theatre festivals which ISE staff visit annuall each year in travels about the country to network with our theatre colleagues.  With these models, year round "charge ticket" shows help support the work to make the annual summer festival largely free of charge.  So over the last few years, ISE has gradually been growing into a year-round producing theatre company- and this year we hit it on all cylanders.  ISE's upcoming year-round season will be chock full of tempting shows that will entice audiences to attend the theatre in new ways -- and attendees will have the satisfaction of knowing that their ticket goes to support the Metro's primary source of free theatre, at the same time as they are being lavishly entertained.
Especially, ISE is excited to unveil a full active season of a unique form of theatre known in the industry as "Found Space" theatre:  theatre in spaces not designed for theatre.  ISE's Artistic Director Lorenzo Sandoval fell in love with that approach to theatre (which he dubs "ultra real") while teaching at the University of Iowa, and the bottom line is that with ISE's true passion for this type of theatre as well as our genuine expertise with it, audiences will seldom just find theselves sitting in a dark box at an ISE show.  Instead, we plan to provide audiences each year with a full line up of found space theatre experiences -- including our upcoming fall show that will take place within Historic Jordan House -- a show which joins our sold-out hit Christmas Show that unfolds each year directly inside Iowa's Governor's Mansion.  We promise that these unique shows will provide Metro audiences with theatre experiences not readily found anywhere else.
Accordingly, during summer of 2013 we kicked off a new year-round Residency for ISE with historic Rollins Mansion- and a more natural theatre residency would be hard to find.  Closed generally to the public for years, the Mansion is now re-opened for public events- and ISE was excited to be sought out to develop a Rollins Mansion theatre program.  For a more perfect place for found space theatre would be hard to find.  At once architecturally rich yet incredibly warm and inviting, Rollins Mansion is that rare type of place that envelopes audiences in welcoming hospitality rather than in cold formality -- and ISE looks forward to unfolding several new theatre series here, including an awesome series of "Fireside Theatre" just right for that chilly winter evening.  Audiences will feel right at home- while being engaged by the classics in new "ultra real" ways.
And especially, it turns out that Rollins Mansion is just right- just perfect, even - - for Shakespearean theatre.  Did  you know? Rollins Mansion is made of beams imported from an Inn in England under which Shakespeare himself is legendarily said to have performed.  And indeed, one would be hard pressed to find a more delectable taste of Old England in Iowa than the Mansion and grounds of the Rollins Estate, and certainly hard pressed to find a more ideal venue for Shakespearean theatre - especially outdoor Shakespearean theatre.
Audiences attending anISE Rollins Mansion show (and yes we promise: there are more to come in our future!) will find visually perfect backdrops loaded with atmosphere and architecture straight out of Tudor England, complete with stone balconies, heavily carved wood details, sunken pools, fountains and an extraordinarily beautiful circular Rose Garden.  Guests will be able to stroll the grounds, drink in an absolutely incredible view of downtown Des Moines, and picnic on the Mansion's expansive and shady back lawn  - before being escorted into the fountainside Rose Garden where the show will take place, produced with both high-end special effects professional lighting as well as using Shakespearean-style live torches.  It will be atmospheric, indeed!
The 2013 show took place there in the Rose Garden.  But in this new ISE series at Rollins Mansion, expect each year for ISE to mix it up a bit- keeping things fresh and lively as our Mainstage is increasingly joined by works presented on our Estate Stage!
ISE Executive Producer Robin Heinemann explains: "One of the things we are so excited about with our new Rollins Mansion outdoor summer show series is that the Estate lends itself so well to all sorts of different ways in which to set productions.  For example, in the future, we certainly will have shows set elsewhere in the gardens, and those shows will lend themselves to picnicing during the show proper.  So we will mix it up a bit with these great shows."
She continues: "But for this particular 2013 opening show set, we wanted to make the show extra special and treat audiences to the Best of the Bard in an incredibly intimate and elegant corner of the estate. The rose garden holds about 150 people so for us for this year, it is just the perfect size- it will sell out quickly, we believe, but at the same time be a nicely intimate venue that will provide yet another way for the Metro to relish what we at ISE call the best night of summer!" She concludes:  "This show will be very different from the ways we've done things before outdoors -and the bottom line is that I think audiences will feel as if they literally have been transported for an evening 'across the pond' ". 
Attendees purchasing a Lawn Ticket for a year when ISE hosts Rollins Mansion summer show should bring blankets or chairs for pre-show picnics, although show seats will be provided by the stage on a first come, first served basis.  Also, at the Festival's new Rollins Mansion site, great Shakesperience fest traditions of ultra-special VIP seating will continue- VIP Ticket attendees will be able to bring their picnics to pre-laid al fresco tables replete with flowers, linens and other elegant touches - -while dining on exclusive "King's Court" or "Queen's Court" balconies or in specially secluded garden nooks by the reflecting pool.  VIP seats also come with Gold level "box" reserved seat sections for the show proper.
And each and every single person who buys a Rollins show ticket (offered in 2013 at special introductory prices) will not only get great entertainment, but will be helping provide vital income to the Festival that will keep its Mainstage shows forever free for the entire community.  Remember: this festival may be the only time many youth, families, and Seniors will be able to see professional live theatre all year!
So it doesn't get too much better than that, unless of course its the show proper.  For the 2013 Season, we  kicked off the Rollins series (which in the future will include full length plays), with a "Best of the Bard" special in all senses of the word.  The producers featured their 2013 Mainstage Actors in repertory parts as well as other old ISE favorite Artists who took the stage for this show- in particular, Playhouse Dionysus Award winning Best Actors to among them. Also, noted area actor James Serpento presented two of Shakespeare's most fascinating and intense monologues.
Thus, audiences for this show enjoyed everything from Shakespeare's most thought-provoking monologues to his sparkling dialogues, with a special feature of some of the Sonnets as well - and of course, touches of music and lyrical dance.  It will truly be a night of the best of the best- in all respects.
A more sublime evening of summer theatre may not exist anywhere else in the state, so continue to check back about other future Rollins Mansion shows - - and when they pop up, take advantage of early bird ticket specials at Midwestix (no worries about rain - shows move inside to a lovely picnic-friendly Hall with more old English touches) - -  Thou wilt NOT want to miss this!
A presentation of
Historic Jordan House
and their program:
Shakespeare on our Lawn


It's Shakespeare under the towering oaks - live in your neighborhood!  ISE's traveling shows to outlying stages scattered across the Metro has become an important tradition of the Festival. By our fifth anniversary in 2013, we'd visited the park stages of Windsor Heights and Ankeny, as well as Historic home stages in Carlisle and West Des Moines. 
And for our 2013 anniversary show, ISE was delighted to be invited to reprise our 2012 traveling show on the shady lawn of historic Jordan House, one of Iowa's Victorian treasure estates, located in a secluded glen of West Des Moines.  As in 2012, this was a family-friendly sneak peek "shorts" show featuring preview highlights of Othello - -plus a chance for youth and families to interact with the actors and see up close and personal demonstrations of fight scenes, etc.  Between soldiers in high military dress and lovely ladies in beautiful gowns, there was be something to captivate each little Prince or Princess attending- or even just you and your sweetie sans the kids! Guests were be treated to an ice cream social by your Jordan House hosts. 
2012:  Our first Tragedy: Romeo and Juliet (Rennaissance setting)
2011:  A second year in true revolving Repertory:  The Regina Monologues and Mark TWAINment Tonite!
2010:  A Midsummer Night's Dream Extravaganza (Set in the era of the Siver Screen)
2009:  Our first year in true revolving Repertory:  Much Ado Wop About Something (1950s setting) and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged

2008:  Taming of the Shrew (Rennaissance Italy setting with contemporary augmentation)
2007:  Much Ado About Nothing (1920's era setting with Rennaissance augmentation)
2006:  Our first full length "traditional" production: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Rennaissance styling)
2005:  Our first full length original "New American" Shakespeare work: The Regina Monologues
2004:  Shakespeare on the Lawn: featuring Romeo and Juliet; Thrice Told Tales
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