A movable feast

Six years ago, the Foothill Theatre Company of Nevada City got the contract to produce two shows—more specifically, two comedies—during late July and August for the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, held at Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park southeast of Incline Village.

In addition to providing props and costumes, Foothill’s contract with the Lake Tahoe fest involves a big seasonal expansion of the payroll, as Shakespeare plays typically call for 20 or more characters. (Even with double casting, that’s more people onstage than your typical production of a more modern play, which generally features between two and six actors.)

The contract with Lake Tahoe Shakespeare also gave Foothill the opportunity to transfer the two shows from Lake Tahoe to the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley, Foothill’s home turf, where shows enjoy a late August and September run at the Sierra Shakespeare Festival. Ergo, this week, productions of The Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night move from Lake Tahoe to Nevada County.

“The Sierra Shakespeare Festival opens only five days after LTSF closes, so the productions are transferred down from Tahoe and onto the stage at the Fred Forsman amphitheater at the Nevada County Fairgrounds,” explains Foothill artistic director Philip Charles Sneed, who also plays Petruchio in this year’s production of Shrew.

Sneed said the Sierra Shakespeare Festival has showed steady, if not spectacular growth. “But we know that, given the off-season dates [late August through September], there is a limit to how far it can grow,” Sneed says. “The September dates mean that the festival is primarily an event for our own community, with only limited appeal to those outside the area.

“In order to grow into a major Shakespeare festival along the lines of the Utah or Colorado Shakespeare festivals, we need to be able to play in July and August,” Sneed concludes, pointing out that the September slot is also essential for attracting daytime student matinee audiences.