WHAT’S THE POINT — “Laurence Olivier was a bit stiff. He was Shakespeare of a different era.” That’s what Skylar Adams told me as he was preparing to launch into his rendition of the St. Crispin’s Day speech at the Santa Monica Art Studios on Sunday. We were chatting in conspiratorial hushed tones as the crowd around us was taking in the artwork at the 10th annual Santa Monica Art Studios Open Studios this past weekend.
The open house was a delightful experience of traditional and not-so-traditional art open to the public to come and enjoy. The artists range from photographers, painters, mixed media creators and sculptors. The Sunday afternoon crowd was milling about as the announcement that the silent auction was ending and the live theater was starting.
Nancy Linehan Charles is the founder of a guerilla theater troupe that performs flashmobs of various plays, called Salty Shakespeare (www.saltyshakespeare.org). They are a band of merrymakers that blend in, until the time arrives for them to stand out. Looking the part of a gallery fashionista, Nancy was quietly strolling around the gallery before she delivered Shylock’s monologue from Merchant of Venice. This was just a teaser of the type of events that Salty Shakespeare does for schools, corporations and business associations that want to disrupt their audiences.
Next up was one of the artists in residence at the Santa Monica Arts Studios; Gregg Chadwick read a short piece he wrote about the value of the night in making the day more enjoyable. It was beautiful story, well presented, which set the stage for Skylar’s speech.
Speaking with Skylar I learned this was his first real Salty Shakespeare outing, but you wouldn’t have known it from the way he performed. His was a stirring rendition, not stiff at all, as he worked the crowd. This retired Marine clearly learned a few things while he was in New York attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts on his GI bill.
Nancy is a veteran actor who has a storied career in both TV and film. She’s a vibrant, creative soul, that you just love to be around. Her fearlessness is infectious. She exudes a natural warmth and inspiration which may be why she is so successful with the actors of Salty Shakespeare who have been brought in to show children what Shakespeare is all about and to make it come alive for them. As part of corporate trainings Nancy and her guerillas have “erupted” to break corporate attendees out of their constrained thinking patterns.
Knowing Nancy as I do, it seems to be a most apt use of her skills. Bringing a joie de vivre to all her endeavors seems to be working for her and her troupe of merry makers, which include her highly successful son William Rothhaar. On the Salty Shakespeare website is a video of young Will as he launched into character at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire and he was so engaging that the Queen sought him out.
Salty Shakespeare was brought in as a teaser to the crowd to bring awareness to another event that is coming up; Categorically Not is an irregular series of events playing with the natural connections between science, art, and politics. It is headed up by USC Annenberg Professor of Journalism and Science writer for the Los Angeles Times, K.C. Cole.
The Categorically Not! website describes their events thusly: “Categorically Not! has [the following] format: three people from three different fields (physics, theater, art, for example) give short presentations/performances that circle a common theme (Fluid Dynamics, Gravity/Levity, Mixtures).”
I look forward to their next event, which hopefully will showcase more Skylar, more Nancy and more art.
The sheer depth and breadth of what we have in this town is jaw dropping and we’re lucky to have access to so much art, theater and the many social service organizations as we do.