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Theater Review: New Arts Grants Yield Top-Notch Theatre:

A whirlwind Shakespearean production, Pericles Redux, whisked through the Kirk Douglas Theatre the last two weeks in July. The exquisite show was made possible by the Dax Foundation’s newly awarded Performing Arts Charitable Trust (PACT) grants. The grants were awarded in May to four theatre groups: Not Man Apart Physical Theatre Ensemble, Shakespeare Santa Monica, Independent Shakespeare Company, and the Veterans Center for the Performing Arts.

The limited production of Pericles Redux at the Douglas followed an acclaimed production at the renowned Edinburgh Festival in Scotland in 2008. The Dax Foundation’s $50,000 PACT grant allowed Not Man Apart Physical Theatre Ensemble to perform nine shows of Pericles Redux at the Douglas, the proceeds from which will support the upcoming season at Shakespeare Santa Monica. Not Man Apart Physical Theatre Ensemble and Shakespeare Santa Monica are both helmed by John Farmanesh-Bocca, who was also appointed PACT’s program director.

PACT grants are unrestricted grants aimed at connecting arts groups with their local communities. The production of Pericles Redux certainly fulfilled that goal.

An updated and highly original take on Shakespeare’s play Pericles, Prince of Tyre the production was a top-notch combination of interpretive dance, lowbrow comedy and epic adventure. Many of the performers had high levels of athleticism, thus making it a pleasure to watch this movement-based interpretation unfold. In addition to his dual roles as director and choreographer, Farmanesh-Bocca also played the titular role, bringing a balance of wrenching tragic moments and side-splitting comic twists to the prince who loses his family only to re-discover them in a seemingly miraculous ending. Matching Farmanesh-Bocca in talent was three time Emmy Award winner, Jennifer Landon, who played both wife and daughter to the goodly prince.

If the subsequent shows funded by the Dax Foundation’s PACT grants are this good, the possibilities for high quality local theatre are endless. And if John Farmanesh-Bocca keeps spreading around his talents, Shakespeare Santa Monica is sure to have a bright future.

For more information about the Dax Foundation, visit www.daxfoundation.org.  

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