THEATER NOTES : Festival Forsooth : From Ventura to Simi Valley, the focus of many thespian groups this year will be on Shakespeare.


Everything’s shakin’: All Ventura County will host an unofficial Shakespeare festival this year, beginning Saturday night with the first of two upcoming presentations of “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.”

The Plaza Players production is said to be rather traditional, although the Ventura group’s longtime artistic director, Michael Maynez, is not noted for his “traditional” presentations of anything.

The Thousand Oaks-based Conejo Players will produce its version of the classic in June, this time set “in the silver fields of the Sierra Nevada.” Call (805) 498-3784 for information on auditions, which will be held March 31-April 2.

Other Shakespearean productions scheduled this year include “The Taming of the Shrew,” presented at various sites in Ventura County by Shakespeare in the Park, beginning in July; “Macbeth” by the Ojai Shakespeare Festival (the newly renamed performance arm of Ojai’s Royal Shakespeare Revels), and the Santa Paula Theater Center’s “A Comedy of Errors” in September.


Nuts on trial in Simi Valley: The S.A.V.E. Theater organization of Simi Valley will be producing Tom Topor’s “Nuts"--Barbra Streisand starred in the film--in the city’s former courthouse building on Cochran Street, beginning March 15. The courtroom drama will be acted out, appropriately enough, in the real courtroom, reports artistic director Sid Haig. Outside the courtroom, before the presentation, representatives of several of Simi Valley’s performing arts groups will show their wares in actual performance and passing out literature, etc., throughout the run.

Theater groups’ prayers may soon be answered: In other Simi Valley news, the City Council has voted to negotiate to buy from a private owner the old Methodist Church building on Los Angeles Avenue, in disuse and disrepair for several years.

Says Jay Corey, assistant city manager: “If the acquisition process is successful, the next step is to have the city’s architects prepare what’s called a predesign study, at which time they’ll look at the space needs for various arts groups in the community. They’ll also look at historical preservation opportunities that will lead a narrative report with drawings to illustrate conceptual layouts and to address structural, electrical and mechanical requirements.” He says those studies, design and construction could take several years.

After renovation, the facility would be used in part for performing arts groups such as the Santa Susana Repertory Company. Until then, the Santa Susanans will share the old courthouse with S.A.V.E. and other groups.

Aspiring thespians please note: Auditions will be held this Sunday for the Moorpark Melodrama’s April-June production of “The Clumsy Custard Horror Show.” Title notwithstanding, the play takes place in the days when knighthood was in flower, and has nothing to do with the “Rocky Horror Show.” Singing and dancing skills are almost as important as a gift for knockabout farce. Call (805) 529-1212 for further information, between noon and 5 p.m.

Santa Paula Theater Center is holding two series of acting classes for young people. “Advanced Acting” for those 11 and up begins Monday and runs for 10 weeks, Monday and Thursday afternoons between 4 to 5:30 p.m. There’s a fee, $60, and prerequisites include drama class or stage experience. Also required is an interview with either Terry Brenner-Farrell or Sally Mueller, the instructors. Beginners between 5 and 6 years can enroll for the “Fairytale Theater,” held on six consecutive Saturday mornings beginning April 6. There’s a $25 fee. Call (805) 525-4645 for further information on either series.