In 2010, Shakespeare Napa Valley (SNV)*, partnered with the City of Napa to present a production of The Taming of the Shrew in downtown Napa’s Veteran’s Park. It saw record setting attendance and renewed passion for Shakespeare was ignited in the Napa Valley through the company’s inventive storytelling of Shakespeare’s classic tale.
Since that inaugural production, SNV has produced at least one full-scale production each year, attracting audiences of over 30,000 to see their exciting, interactive, and wildly imagined productions of plays written or inspired by William Shakespeare.
A champion of original work as well as the classics, Shakespeare Napa Valley began a new plays program in 2015, with Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor writing and directing world premiere workshop performances of Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged) with SNV. In 2019, they were in residency again to workshop Hamlet’s Big Adventure. Both went on to successful runs with the Reduced Shakespeare Company.
Along with new work, SNV has promoted a global presence with productions of The Comedy of Errors and As You Like It being presented at the UK International Youth Arts Festival in London. SNV’s Founder and Artistic Director Jennifer King directed the 2017 Czech premiere of Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged), as well as,The Comedy of Errors (2018) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2019) for the Prague Shakespeare Company.
These experiences, along with associations with Arts Council Napa Valley, Theater Bay Area, Theater Communications Group, Shakespeare Theaters Association, Earth Shakes, and Globetrotting Shakespeare, have raised the profile of Shakespeare Napa Valley as a local, national, and global arts leader.
* Shakespeare Napa Valley is a program of the Napa Valley College District Auxiliary Services Foundation which serves as SNV’s fiscal sponsor.
It is important to acknowledge that the lands we all occupy today are Indigenous lands. Napa Valley College and the surrounding Napa Valley sit on the unceded traditional, ancestral, and contemporary homelands of the Miwok, Patwin (comprised of three federally recognized tribes: the Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians of the Colusa Indian Community, the Kletsel Dehe Band of Wintun Indians, and the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation), and Wappo (including the Mishewal Wappo also known as the Onatsátis) peoples. These lands were taken via genocide and forced removal.
We recognize the past and contemporary violations of sovereignty, territory, and water perpetrated by invaders that have impacted the original inhabitants of this land who resided here for over 10,000 years and are still here. Before this land was colonized and farmed like we see it today, it was carefully tended by the Indigenous people, the first stewards of the land.
The glorious sun that shone on the Miwok, Patwin, and Wappo peoples before settler colonization and mass genocide still shines in Napa. The beautiful mountains that were places for celebration, community, and prayer for the Miwok, Patwin, and Wappo beckon to us today. The magnificent trees that gave shade, food and shelter still stand tall across the county. The Miwok, Patwin, and Wappo who were here stewarding the land, raising their families, and loving friends and community are still here. Elders are sharing their wisdom, knowledge, spiritual and cultural guidance with younger generations.
As part of Napa Valley College’s mission of preparing students for evolving roles in a diverse, dynamic, and interdependent world, and in accordance with the College’s values of honesty, integrity, inclusivity, and respect for others, we make this acknowledgement.
We also affirm that this acknowledgement is insufficient. It does not undo the harm that has been, and continues to be, perpetrated against Indigenous people, the land, and water. May we hold steady in our commitment to be in solidarity and in action to seek equity and justice with the Miwok, Patwin , and Wappo peoples.
Jennifer King is a Professor of Theater at Napa Valley College and an International Theater Artist having produced, performed, directed and created theater in the US, UK, Germany, Prague and Poland. Regional credits include work for the California Shakespeare Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Aurora Theatre Company, Capital Stage, Berkeley Playhouse, Cinnabar Theater and Shakespeare NV.
Prior to her professorship, she served as Executive/Artistic Director for Sonoma County Repertory Theater/Sebastopol Shakespeare Festival.
From 1999-2001, she served as Director of Education/Community Programs for the Dallas Theater Center. She also served as Director of Artistic Learning at the California Shakespeare Theater, where she was also an Artistic Associate.
Jennifer also serves as the Chair for Arts and Humanities and Performing Arts Artistic Director, as well as Theater Arts and Film Studies Coordinator.
Olivia Cowell is a Theater Arts Adjunct Instructor at Napa Valley College and a bay area director and choreographer. She received her Master of Arts in Drama from San Francisco State University with training including studying with UK based Royal Academy of Dancing. Olivia has directed adult and youth productions with theater companies in Northern California. She is also Co-Director of the youth education non-profit organization Cafeteria Kids Theater.
Matthew Cowell is the Technical Director for Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center. He is an adjunct instructor teaching Sound Reinforcement and Recording, Digital Sound Recording, and Sound Engineering. Working in the Bay Area for over 20 years as sound designer, recording engineer and drummer, he has worked with numerous local and national talents, including Grammy and Oscar nominated artists. He is an accomplished fight choreographer and bay area actor. Cowell has a Bachelor’s degree in Theater and Performance Studies from UC Berkeley and a Master’s degree in Theology and Film Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary.
AUDITION NOTICE FOR SHAKESPEARE SUMMER STROLL 2023
About the Shakespeare Summer Stroll:
Napa Valley College, Shakespeare Napa Valley and di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art present Shakespeare Summer Stroll, a site-integrated presentation of scenes and monologues from some of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays, interwoven with the exquisite works and outdoor spaces at di Rosa. The same production team from our 2021 Stroll, which was performed for a completely sold out run to rave reviews, is being brought together for summer 2023. The production will be directed by Olivia Cowell, NVC Theater Arts instructor.
Rehearsal and Performance Overview: Rehearsals are held Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday Evenings in June-July. Those cast in the production must be 16 years or older and must enroll in the corresponding Napa Valley College Theater Arts course upon admission. Rehearsals will begin Tuesday, June 13th.
Performances are slated for evenings July 26th-30th at the diRosa Center for Contemporary Art.
Prepare a one- to two-minute video performing a Shakespeare monologue, sonnet or excerpt from the Henry V prologue. NVC Students, Alumni, Community Members, and Professional Actors are encouraged to participate in this unique performance experience.
In-Person Auditions will be held at the Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center Studio Theater on Wednesday 5/31/23 from 6:30pm-8pm.
Video Auditions: If you choose to submit a video they are due on Tuesday 5/30/23. Please submit your audition information and video by clickingHERE.
NVC’S SHAKESPEARE NAPA VALLEY IS AWARDED MAJOR GIFT FROM KANSAS CITY BASED THEATER LEAGUE
Patrick Flick, Executive Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Association (STA) and Mark Edelman, founder and president of Theater League Inc., a Kansas City, Missouri based contributor to the performing arts, announced today that the League will be gifting thirty-five Shakespeare Theatres across the United States and internationally with a grant of $255,000 in general operating support. These non-restricted gifts of either $5,000 or $10,000 each based on budget size will be awarded in 2023 to STA- member producing theaters with budgets between $100,000 and $1,400,000, including Shakespeare Napa Valley.
“Shakespeare Napa Valley is overjoyed to be included with such esteemed Shakespeare companies across the globe through our relationship with the Shakespeare Theatre Association.” says Jennifer King, Founder and Artistic Director of Shakespeare Napa Valley, “Our local community has been very supportive of our endeavors, and it is wonderful to be recognized on an international level as well.”
“As regular contributors to the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival in Kansas City—a long-time STA member— we were looking to expand our support of non-profit organizations with similar goals and objectives,” explained Edelman. “That led us to STA and Patrick, who helped us Identify the mid-level Shakespeare producing organizations we wanted to fund.”
Said Flick, “STA is always looking for ways to assist our membership, whether it be in the form of our annual conference, or by seeking out financial assistance for our hard-working member theaters. At a time when audience sizes are just beginning to rebound from the pandemic, support for Shakespeare and the classics in the communities we serve is such an important thing. STA is grateful to Theater League for that support.”
Shakespeare Napa Valley is dedicated to creating bold and entertaining interpretations of Shakespeare’s plays and new works inspired by classic stories. Since 2010, SNV has presented a Shakespeare inspired play free of charge each summer in parks across the Napa Valley. This summer, Shakespeare Napa Valley will produce our 2nd Shakespeare Summer Stroll in partnership with the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, directed by Olivia Cowell. This performance is a site-integrated presentation of scenes and monologues from some of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays, interwoven with the exquisite works and outdoor spaces at the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art.
Shakespeare Napa Valley believes that theater should be a place of inclusion, a center for community that responds to the time and place in which we live, the issues that shape our lives, and the complexities of contemporary life. As a result, SNV is committed to cultivating a diverse audience by offering some of our productions free of charge, so that every person in the Napa Valley will have the opportunity to experience the transformative power of theater at no cost.
Kansas City-based Theater League is a not-for-profit performing arts organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in the communities it serves with the thrill of live! theater. Founded in 1976, the group supports theater companies in its hometown and across the country, including subsidizing tickets for student groups through its Theater ROcKs (Reach Out to Kids) program. “What appealed to us is the far-flung nature of the organizations we’ll be supporting with this grant program,” continued Edelman. “Shakespeare companies in twenty-six states plus the Czech Republic will get a little help from Theater League.”
STA is a 32-year-old theatre service organization founded in 1991 at a convening in Washington DC, hosted by the Shakespeare Theatre and the Kennedy Center. The organization continues to convene annually to provide support and mentorship as well as share best practices with colleagues from within the United States and internationally. Membership includes over 130 organizational theaters and dozens of Associate Members representing indoor, outdoor, Equity and non-Equity, year-round, seasonal, university-affiliated, and free Shakespeare productions with budgets ranging from $25,000 to $60,000,000.
STA’s member organizations engage a diverse array of audiences and staff members representing a wide variety of ethnicities, genders, ages, and abilities. A resource network that bridges the gap between scholarship and production and promotes the teaching of Shakespeare in schools, STA has helped its member organizations explore Shakespeare in the context of colonialism, anti-racism, gender diversity, best practices in hiring, and a host of other topics designed to keep the Bard relevant in the modern world.
Shakespeare Napa Valley’s Student Company is a performance intensive, providing classical training through the rehearsal and performance of works written or inspired by William Shakespeare. The student company is part of the theater arts program at Napa Valley College. Participation is by audition only and students must enroll in the corresponding NVC Theater Arts course upon admission.
During summer 2021 the Student Company, in a co-production with the Di Rosa Center Contemporary Art, presented the Shakespeare Summer Stroll, a site integrated presentation of scenes and monologues from some of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays, interwoven with some of di Rosa’s most exquisite works and outdoor spaces. Directed by Olivia Cowell, Shakespeare Summer Stroll integrated SNV’s professional acting company and the student company, with professional actors featured on stage with the student cast.
Prague Shakespeare Company’s Summer Intensive Program
The Napa Valley College Shakespeare Abroad program provides NVC students the unique opportunity for an immersive theater and mentorship experience at Prague Shakespeare Company’s summer intensive in the historic city of Prague.
Folger Shakespeare Library is offering free teaching resources for the public, including weekly Teacher Conversations, digital texts and audio and video recordings of Shakespeare’s works. Learn more at folger.edu/teaching-during-covid-19.
Atlanta Shakespeare Company is offering free digital learning opportunities through May 22, 2020, including performance videos with study guides and distance learning workshops. Learn more atatlantashakespeare.org/digital-learning.
Shakespeare’s Globe is offering free online theater productions to the public. Learn more at shakespearesglobe.com.
For over ten years, Performing Arts Napa Valley has provided over 50,000 free and low cost tickets to elementary, middle, high school and college students throughout Napa Valley.
Modeled after the award winning Dallas Theater Center arts education program, Project Discovery provides tickets, study guides and post show workshops to Performing Arts Napa Valley performances at little or no cost. The desired result is for every young person in our diverse community to have a meaningful experience with the performing arts.