Ousted Grove Director Forms Shakespeare Troupe

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Thomas F. Bradac, recently ousted as the artistic director of the Grove Shakespeare Festival, has formed a new professional theater troupe called Shakespeare/Orange County to operate on the campus of Chapman University in Orange.

Bradac announced Tuesday that the company, which is to work under a Small Professional Theatre contract still in negotiation with Actors' Equity, will open its maiden seven-week season next summer with "The Winter's Tale" (July 10 to Aug. 2) and "Hamlet" (Aug. 7-31) at Chapman's 256-seat Waltmar Theatre.

"This company is being formed from an artistic impulse (with) people I trust and (with whom) I have a long, ongoing relationship," said Bradac, who estimated the first annual SOC budget at $182,410. Of that amount, $122,500 is expected from ticket sales. The company plans to hire "six to seven" union professionals, he said, including a stage manager.

Founding the company with Bradac, 44, are Kamella Tate, Daniel Bryan Cartmell and Elizabeth Norment, all leading actors at the Grove who are defecting in the wake of Bradac's ouster there.

Michael Nehring, who is a board member of the Friends and Artists theater company in Los Angeles, is also a founding artist of the new Shakespeare troupe.

Chapman University provost Harry L. Hamilton emphasized at a press conference that the university will not be a financial sponsor of the new troupe. He characterized the relationship with SOC as "loose but still important" in providing facilities and deriving educational benefits for faculty and students.

Bradac said Lee Shallat is tentatively scheduled to stage "The Winter's Tale" and that he will direct "Hamlet." Shallat has worked extensively at South Coast Repertory and has gone on to television directing. Kristoffer Tabori, another actor/director and SCR artist who also works in television, is planning to participate in a 1992 spring fund-raiser for the company, Bradac said.

"What we're not trying to do is slap something together," he noted. "If these people were not involved, I would not be involved."

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