Festival features 'Richard II' for first time

Kingsmen play features women in many male roles

Brett Elliott is Richard II and Hannah Tamminen is Bolingbroke in the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company's first staging of the historical play.

Photo: Brian Stethem

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – July 1, 2019) The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company will present “Richard II” for the first time in its history this summer, with women playing many of the traditional male roles.

The 23rd Annual Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival will conclude with performances of the historical play at 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from July 19 through Aug. 4 in Kingsmen Park on California Lutheran University’s Thousand Oaks campus.

One of the few plays to be written entirely in verse, “Richard II” is filled with what critics identify as some of Shakespeare’s most beautiful and thought-provoking poetry. Often called a philosopher king, Richard II was certain of his divine right to rule. His faulty leadership, however, gives opening to a challenge to his monarchy and leads to 100 years of dynastic civil war. The play relates the poignant fall from power of one of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters. 

“We see Richard as the bad king at the beginning of the play, but by the end, as we see him in prison, he becomes almost an empathetic character,” said director Michael J. Arndt. This is the 14th Kingsmen production directed by Arndt, the company’s co-founder and artistic director. 

Brett Elliott, the company’s associate artistic director, plays Richard II. He has been with the company since its beginning, playing some of the most important roles including Romeo, Hamlet and Marc Antony and directing several productions.

Cast as Richard’s cousin and adversary, Bolingbroke, is Hannah Tamminen, a Los Angeles-based actor with credits in TV, film and theater, including Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse and Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Women also play other politicians and soldiers. 

Returning Kingsmen Company members Tom Ashworth, Ted Barton, Michael Faulkner, Jason Rennie and Jeff Wallach play John of Gaunt, the Duke of York, Bagot, Northumberland and the Bishop of Carlisle. Local community members acting in the production include Camarillo High School English teacher Mark Storer and the Rev. George Daisa, the rector of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Thousand Oaks.

The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company is the professional theater company of Cal Lutheran. 

General admission is $25 for adults, $20 for seniors 62 and over and active military, $15 for students 18 and over with ID, and free for children. Lawn boxes, which accommodate four to six people, are $90 to $110.

Festival grounds open at 5:30 p.m. for pre-show picnicking and entertainment. For more information and tickets, visit kingsmenshakespeare.org or call 805-493-3452.