Visit by Julie Eccles in October 2012

Julie Eccles at San Jose Youth ShakespeareJulie Eccles, an Associate Artist at California Shakespeare Theatre in Orinda, recently spent an evening with us. Julie was appearing as Gertrude in Hamlet this summer, so we invited her to meet us for a couple of hours on one of her nights off. About 30 kids and their parents listened to Julie recount some of the highlights of her career on stage and screen. Julie and Bob Rumsby met at UC Davis in 1982 and appeared in several student productions together, including Romeo and Juliet, The Cherry Orchard, and The Beaux Stratagem. Julie went on to study at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and spent some time in London before moving back to the Bay Area. During a long career with northern California theatre companies, she has played leading roles in plays by Shakespeare, Shaw, and Noel Coward. In addition to her stage experience, Julie mentioned a televised production of Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude, in which she appeared with Kenneth Branagh, and an audition for Steven Spielberg that led to a small role alongside Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Julie Eccles with the GroupDuring the second part of the evening, Julie watched some of our group reprise scenes, speeches, and songs from recent productions of Twelfth Night andMacbeth, as well as a rehearsal of the Marley and Scrooge scene from the upcoming production of A Christmas Carol.Julie herself treated us to a beautiful rendition of Gertrude’s speech from Hamlet describing the drowning of Ophelia. A few days after the meeting, nine of us drove up to Orinda to watch a full performance of Hamlet, and we all agreed that it was a fantastic production and well worth the visit. We look forward to the possibility of working with Julie again next summer and returning to Orinda to see more shows at California Shakespeare Theatre.

San Jose Renaissance Faire


San Jose Youth Shakespeare at the San Jose
Renaissance Faire – a match made in heaven.  The Faire was held shortly before our production of Macbeth, giving our performers the chance to draw swords, duel, and die dramatically along with the best of them.  Performing on one of three outdoor stages, the witches were on hand to add their spooky touch, and we even brought along musicians to set the mood with lute duets performed on guitar.  As they wandered the Faire after performing, several of our actors encountered the Bard himself at Elizabeth’s court!  What could have been more appropriate than their impromptu reading of scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream under his guidance?   Here’s hoping this becomes a yearly tradition for our company.


hicklebees_performanceAfter weeks of rehearsal, getting out of the studio and into the community feels great! No more darkened theatre, but cast and audience face to face in the cozy, friendly setting that is Hicklebee’s bookstore, sharing Shakespeare of an afternoon. Costumes may not be complete yet, and of course scenery is out of the question, but the play’s the thing! Selected scenes, interspersed with edifying commentary by the director, are presented for the enjoyment of one and all. The informal atmosphere makes this a great way for younger kids to get a feeling for the play, even if they may not be ready to sit through an entire production.

Stage poetry

Building the Stage

Mounds of nails, mountains of wood, a maze of gadgets scattered throughout the yard
Chopping, sawing, nailing, grinding with sounds of grunts and moans filling the air
Icky, sticky, all so very messy, glues and paints splashed here, there and everywhere
Father, sons and sometimes daughters too, in a frantic, full of panic, wondering what to do
Somehow manage, without too much damage, to construct stairs and chairs, rails and jails,
Lifts and cliffs, swings and other over-sized things
Not for themselves, but for the Bard and his friends
So they can escape his pages
To perform on stages
– R.C. Devlin

Notes on acting and direction by Theatre Creation

Theatre Creation: Notes On Acting and Direction

Every object tells. In a properly created on-stage world, nothing is extra and nothing is missing…To paraphrase Chekhov, “Never hang a musket over the fireplace in Act I unless someone gets shot in Act III.”

That is, do not create visual anticipation without exploiting it. Playwright Romulus Linney stated this same idea more strongly:

“Everything on the set should be used up, burned up, blown up, destroyed, or otherwise completely chemically altered over the course of the story or else it didn’t belong there to begin with.”