Beverly Blake and Tom Scott

Beverly Blake and Tom Scott

As early as the 13th century, “Robehod,” “Rabunhod” and other variations had become common nicknames for criminals. 14th Century ballads tell the story of Robin Hood as a tradesman who lived in Sherwood Forest with his men and frequently clashed with the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Little John and Will Scarlet were part of Robin’s “merry” crew - meaning, at the time, an outlaw’s gang - but Maid Marian, Friar Tuck and Alan-a-Dale did not enter the legend until later, possibly as part of the May Day rituals. Beginning in the 15th century Christian revelers in certain parts of England celebrated May Day with plays and games involving a Robin Hood figure with near-religious significance. Robin was often allocated the role of a May King, presiding over games and processions, and plays were also performed at church socials, a means by which churches raised funds.

William Shakespeare makes reference to Robin Hood in The Two Gentlemen of Verona with the comment, “By the bare scalp of Robin Hood’s fat friar, this fellow were a king for our wild faction!” Robin Hood is also mentioned in As You Like It with the comment that he is “already in the forest of Arden, and a many merry men with him; and there they live like the old Robin Hood of England”.

We may never know for sure whether Robin Hood ever existed outside the verses of ballads and pages of books. What we do know is that the notion of a brave rebel who lives on the outskirts of society, fighting injustice and oppression with his band of companions, has universal appeal - whether he’s played by Erroll Flynn, Russell Crowe, Kermit the Frog or live on stage in San Juan Capistrano! Robin Hood will be in Historic Town Center Park for three weekends beginning July 14th!

The benefits of being involved in youth theatre have recently been shown to have a lot more impact on the lives of young people than previously thought. In a recent study, youth theatre members were asked to agree or disagree with the statement “Youth theatre has the potential to completely change your life” and a staggering 85.59% agreed.

The study goes on to illustrate the many ways in which youth theatre impacts upon the lives of its young participants including the development of social, creative, and communicative skills. One of the benefits the study investigates is its function in helping people ‘grow up’ by providing them with increased levels of responsibility and independence.

In another study, 440 youth theatre members were asked to complete the sentence “taking part in youth theatre has helped me to...” and 80.45% selected the answer “become more confident.” Confidence is extremely important for young people and enables them to communicate and establish relationships comfortably and effectively. It has been directly linked to maturation where a higher level of self-confidence was found in those who mature early.

Being involved in theatre benefits young people by providing them with different types of adult role models and, by treating them as equals encourages them to accept the responsibilities of adulthood. Kids and tweens visions of adulthood are often restricted by the fact that the adults in their lives are in positions of authority. In Youth Theatre, young people get the opportunity to work with adult professionals and older youths in more of a peer environment. These adults can often serve as more positive teachers and role models who work with and support the young person on their path to adulthood. Their relationship can often be less formal than that of a parent/child, or a teacher/pupil.

Kids in your life have an opportunity this summer and beyond to make lasting friendships, have fun and grow with a team lead by an accredited teacher who is a fun-loving director! Sign up at Camino Real Playhouse.org

The classic story of The Miracle Worker tells the story of Annie Sullivan and her student, blind and mute Helen Keller. It dramatizes the volatile relationship between the lonely teacher and her charge. Trapped in a secret, silent world, unable to communicate, Helen is violent, spoiled, almost sub-human and treated by her family as such. Only Annie realizes that there is a mind and spirit waiting to be rescued from the dark, tortured silence. With intense physical and emotional dynamism, Annie’s success with Helen finally comes with the utterance of a single, glorious word: “water”.

For most of us, Helen’s story ends with that image of a young deafblind girl and her teacher Anne Sullivan at a water pump. However, that transforming moment for Helen signified only the beginning of her new life - a life dedicated to tireless advocacy and fearless activism that opened wide the doors of possibility for people with disabilities.

Helen Keller’s improbable journey from a child unable to communicate due to her multiple disabilities, to her exalted place on the world stage as the famous global citizen she would become, is one of the greatest stories of the 20th century.

Helen Keller was a luminary who continues to transcend her historical era. Because she was a woman outspoken in her principles, she inspired changes in public attitudes about the capabilities of people with visual impairments. As she pushed for revolutionary changes in the law, people with disabilities were able to transition into mainstream education and employment. Helen Keller inspired future generations of people with disabilities to live life to the fullest.

“I will not just live my life. I will not just spend my life. I will invest my life.” Hellen Keller

Come to further appreciate the early journey of Helen and Annie at Camino Real Playhouse in Stage II.

What we call Valentine’s Day has been celebrated for centuries in many cultures under many names.

Early Roman rituals worshiped Lupercus, the Roman god of fertility, who blessed the young men’s rites of passage. Often when Roman armies occupied conquered countries they introduced the festival of Lupercalia in which boys drew names of girls out of an urn to determine their partners for the day or even longer.

Pope Gelasius decided to replace the pagan ritual of Lupercalia with the celebration of St. Valentine because a man and a woman living in intimacy was thought to be too immoral. As the St. Valentine story goes, the saint approached a couple that was arguing and asked them to make peace. After offering a rose, he told them both to hold the stem and pray to God that their love would live forever. The couple then asked St. Valentine to marry them. The news spread and many couples decided to make a pilgrimage to see the bishop on the 14th of each month, until the bishop died in 273 B.C.

Long before the time of Saint Valentine, Cupid played a central role in the ancient Greek and Roman celebrations dedicated to lovers and lovemaking. Venus had a son named Cupid, the impish archer and “go-between” we know of today. Cupid came to represent the many aspects of love: playful, tender, sexual, and passionate. His invisible arrows of sweet destiny would pierce the hearts of both mortals and gods alike, making them fall hopelessly and helplessly in love, oftentimes beyond all hope or reason!

We know Cupid as a smiling mischievous child armed with his bow and arrow ready to pierce lovers’ hearts with romantic love. Originally, he was shown as a handsome young man with a bow and arrows. But, the Victorian era wanted to help make Valentine’s Day more proper for women and children. So, they tossed out this handsome Roman Adonis guy and made cupid more of a chubby baby!

Since then, Valentine’s Day has been celebrated every year throughout the world, with couples exchanging flowers, sweets and gifts, all with a single objective – to devote 24 hours to the celebration of their love.

In February, come and see how Cupid’s arrows can pierce even the black hearts of three bandits in the melodrama Three Bandits and a Baby – a world premiere opening February 24th!

Welcome to 2017! Did you make your New Year’s resolutions? It’s a 4,000-year tradition that dates to the Babylonians who started their new years at the Spring Equinox in a 12-day religious festival known as Akitu. The most common resolutions then were to pay up on debts and return things that were borrowed.

Later in ancient Rome, Julius Caesar changed the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the new year circa 46 B.C. January was named for Janus, a two-faced god who looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future. Sacrifices were made to the deity, loyalty was sworn to the emperor and promises were made for good conduct for the coming year.

For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. They included readings from Scriptures, singing of hymns and served as a spiritual alternative to the raucous celebrations normally held to celebrate the coming of the new year.

While the root of the practice was originally political and religious, most of today’s resolutions are personal self-improvement goals. Although almost half of us will make New Year’s resolutions fewer than 10 percent will actually achieve them. That dismal record probably won’t stop people from making resolutions anytime soon—after all, it’s a 4,000-year tradition!

The word Thanksgiving evokes images of roasted turkey with stuffing, pumpkin pie, family reunions and football. The 54 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians are the acknowledged founders of the American feast.

In 1621, when their labors were rewarded with a bountiful harvest after a year of sickness and scarcity, the Pilgrims gave thanks to God and celebrated His bounty in the English tradition with feasting and sport. Thanksgiving became a regular event by the middle of the 17th century and it was proclaimed each autumn by the individual Colonies.

The Continental Congress proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving in 1777. Later, Presidents Washington, Adams and Monroe proclaimed national Thanksgivings, but the custom fell out of use by 1815, after which the celebration of the holiday was limited to individual state observances. By the 1850s, almost every state and territory celebrated Thanksgiving.

Many people felt that this family holiday should be a national celebration, especially Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of the popular women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book. In 1827, she began a campaign to reinstate the holiday after the model of the first Presidents. She petitioned several Presidents to make it an annual event. Her efforts finally succeeded in 1863, when she was able to convince President Lincoln that a national Thanksgiving might serve to unite a war-torn country. The President declared two national Thanksgivings that year, one for August 6 celebrating the victory at Gettysburg and a second for the last Thursday in November.

A President still had to proclaim Thanksgiving each year, and the last Thursday in November became the customary date. In a controversial move, Franklin Delano Roosevelt lengthened the Christmas shopping season by declaring Thanksgiving for the next-to-the-last Thursday in November. Two years later, in 1941, Congress responded by permanently establishing the holiday as the fourth Thursday in the month.

Six years later, sports were reincorporated into the tradition in1869, when the first American football game was played on Thanksgiving between Rutgers and Princeton.

Of course, each family, extended family and groups of friends have their own traditions that personalize the holiday. Camino Real Playhouse has a 27-year tradition of opening their Christmas production on the day after Thanksgiving which lends a festive air to the rest of the year.

Your heart is pounding, your hands are clenched, and terror permeates your very being. You are scared to death, petrified to look at the screen, read any further or continue to watch the actors on stage - but it does not get any better than this!

Do some people get an endorphin high from being scared? Yes, some researchers do believe that the typical physical reaction to suspenseful movies, books or plays results in the release of opiate endorphins. Addiction to suspense is tied up in biology. That is, the story revs up the body’s sympathetic nervous system, inducing stress and anxiety. In some, the stress is a welcome thrill even if it makes you scream. Speaking of screaming did you know that the term bloodcurdling dates back centuries to medieval times. Recent studies show that extreme horror scenes from plays, books and movies often increase a blood clotting factor in humans! This may be in preparation to stop bleeding in a real crisis.

The payoff comes when the story is over. We are flooded with a sense of relief, which makes us feel good and safe once again. Perhaps we are all just looking for the same thing—a periodic jolt to the nervous system and a roundabout peek at our innermost fears, all within the comfort of a secure environment.

To quote Neil Gaiman as to why we love a good ghost story: “Fear is a wonderful thing, in small doses. You ride the ghost train into the darkness, knowing that eventually the doors will open and you will step out into the daylight once again. It’s always reassuring to know that you’re still here, still safe. That nothing strange has happened, not really. It’s good to be a child again, for a little while, and to fear — not governments, not regulations, not infidelities or accountants or distant wars, but ghosts and such things that don’t exist, and even if they do, can do nothing to hurt us.”

Prepare for an endorphin high, get ready for blood curdling screams and keep an aspirin handy to ensure your blood keeps flowing when you come to the Playhouse this October.

Whether it’s research for a novel, a play or inspiration for a painting, artists of all types have always traveled the world for both knowledge and inspiration.

Because of their exploration, windows to the world were opened to the masses long before world travel became common. The information exchanged exposed cultural, racial and sexual differences, opening the eyes of both the explorer and the explored.

The artist, whether on site in new surroundings or after returning home, will inevitably use their artistic license, which may create a slightly skewed interpretation in their work. The observer or patron becomes a part of this exploration process and may be entertained or offended but always educated. In the arts, whether on stage or before a canvas, the only realities are the ones we ourselves invent, and possibilities grow as large as our imaginations allow.

The best exploration by an artist will transform an observer to an explorer. Jack London’s Call of the Wild whisks the reader to the Yukon. Stephenson’s Treasure Island lets you be a part of a pirate crew. Gauguin’s exotic Polynesian paintings transport the observer directly to Tahiti. Your imagination is key to appreciating all of this exploration.

All of the cultural, racial and sexual differences possible to imagine are present in The Explorers Club written by award winning playwright and lyricist, Nell Benjamin. Set in 1879 London, the prestigious Explorers Club is in crisis: their acting president wants to admit a woman, and their bartender is terrible. True, this female candidate is brilliant, beautiful, and has discovered a legendary Lost City, but the decision to let in a woman could shake the very foundation of the British Empire. Grab your safety goggles and hard hat for some very mad science involving deadly cobras, irate Irishmen, monks and the occasional airship.

Whether it’s research for a novel, a play or inspiration for a painting, artists of all types have always traveled the world for both knowledge and inspiration. Because of their exploration, windows to the world were opened to the masses long before world travel became common. The information exchanged exposed cultural, racial and sexual differences, opening the eyes of both the explorer and the explored.

The artist, whether on site in new surroundings or after returning home, will inevitably use their artistic license, which may create a slightly skewed interpretation in their work. The observer or patron becomes a part of this exploration process and may be entertained or offended but always educated. In the arts, whether on stage or before a canvas, the only realities are the ones we ourselves invent, and possibilities grow as large as our imaginations allow.

The best exploration by an artist will transform an observer to an explorer. Jack London’s Call of the Wild whisks the reader to the Yukon. Stephenson’s Treasure Island lets you be a part of a pirate crew. Gauguin’s exotic Polynesian paintings transport the observer directly to Tahiti. Your imagination is key to appreciating all of this exploration.

All of the cultural, racial and sexual differences possible to imagine are present in The Explorers Club written by award winning playwright and lyricist, Nell Benjamin. Set in 1879 London, the prestigious Explorers Club is in crisis: their acting president wants to admit a woman, and their bartender is terrible. True, this female candidate is brilliant, beautiful, and has discovered a legendary Lost City, but the decision to let in a woman could shake the very foundation of the British Empire. Grab your safety goggles and hard hat for some very mad science involving deadly cobras, irate Irishmen, monks and the occasional airship.

The legend began with The Curse of Capistrano as a serialized story written by Johnston McCulley in 1919.  McCulley also penned works under the nom de plumes of Harrington Strong, John Mack Stone, Walter Pierson and Camden Stuart.

The hero of his story, Zorro, also known as the Masked Fox, has thrived in our imaginations almost a hundred years because Zorro personifies action, romance, humor and heroism. An ethnic hero, he is simultaneously wise, brave, charming, cunning, and romantic.

Zorro has had true staying power because he has been successfully reinterpreted within the spirit of the times. His calculating and precise dexterity as a tactician has enabled him to use his two main weapons, his sword and bullwhip, as an extension of his deft hand. He never uses brute strength, relying on his fox-like sly mind and well-practiced technique to outmatch an opponent. Zorro has true cross-generational as well as cross-gender appeal, an icon to five generations of fans around the world.

In Summer of 2015 during rehearsal for Capistrano Shakespeare Festival, Director Dan Blackley approached the producers of the festival and said “Why aren’t you doing The Curse of Capistrano?” Their response was “What?”. Dan explained that the original Zorro story, written by Johnston McCulley in 1919 was called The Curse of Capistrano! He then offered the challenge: “If I write it, will you produce it on this outdoor stage – next Summer?” The response was an immediate “Yes!” He then proceeded, with his writing partner, Kyle Seitz, to adapt it for stage from the original story.

He later explained that the sword fight scenes would need to be choreographed by the same swordfight choreographers that worked on the films The Three Musketeer’s and The Mask of Zorro. One of those choreographers was even the swordfight double for Catherine Zeta Jones in The Mask of Zorro! To ensure the authenticity of the setting a world class Flamenco Guitarist has been brought in to perform the musical background of the story.

So, again, 97 years after the original Zorro story was written – The Curse of Capistrano – is reborn where it was always meant to be told – in San Juan Capistrano.

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