To celebrate Shakespeare Orange County’s 20th anniversary, artistic director Tom Bradac – also a Chapman University associate professor – developed an international production of the Bard’s seldom-produced erotic poem “Venus and Adonis.” It was staged in June as part of the Fringe Festival in Prague, Czech Republic, and was met with rave reviews.
The same cast and crew brought the critically-acclaimed production to Orange County audiences in August at The Festival Amphitheatre in Garden Grove. Amanda Zarr (’04), Misha Bouvion (’04) and Michael Drace Fountain (’00) all reprised their roles, along with Michael Nehring, professor of theatre. Katie Wilson, adjunct professor of theatre, was costume designer for the production.

Professor Bradac developed the production of the Bard’s seldom-produced erotic poem for the international festival as part of his sabbatical project, in cooperation with Chapman, Shakespeare Orange County, The Prague Shakespeare Festival, The Prague Fringe Festival and Cal State Fullerton.

Since it’s a poem, rather than a play, Bradac says he adapted it into a performance piece staged against a backdrop of a video montage of war footage.

“There’s a subsection of the poem that deals with war and we brought that out,” Bradac says. “Ultimately it’s about making love, not war.” Bradac says.

But it’s also about that great Shakespearean topic, erotic love.

“Shakespeare’s tale of obsessive female lust was denounced as lewd by critics, which only boosted its appeal in 16th-century England,” Bradac explains. “Our production of ‘Venus and Adonis’ examines the feminine sexual drive to love, couple and reproduce, contrasting with the masculine desire for solitude and the hunt.”

It was a hit at the Fringe Festival. The Prague Post lauded the actors for their “fiery passion” before elevating its rave review to a new level of praise. “The production,” it concluded, “is performed by actors whose skills cannot be overstated.”

Learn more at the Shakespeare Orange County website.