LA Times “Boulevard Bard”

Salty Shakespeare stages surprise performances in public, taking classics to the Venice boardwalk, the City Hall lawn — even jail (after arrest, no less).

When Shakespeare declared that “all the world’s a stage,” Nancy Linehan Charles missed the metaphor. She thought he meant it literally.

So for the last six months, she’s been taking Shakespeare to the streets, malls, buildings and beaches of Los Angeles — in pseudo-spontaneous, “flash mob”-style performances. But instead of a crowd breaking into “Thriller” on a New York City subway platform, imagine an edited, streetwise version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on the Venice Beach boardwalk.

The comedy was the debut performance of Salty Shakespeare, a ragtag, unpaid troupe of working actors under Linehan Charles’ direction who spend their free time making “like Hansel and Gretel,” as she likes to say — dropping Shakespearean bread crumbs all over Los Angeles.

The company has whispered scenes from “Hamlet” in the elevators of downtown high-rises; shouted politically trenchant lines from “Julius Caesar” and “Coriolanus” at the Occupy L.A. protest; performed for students at Santa Monica College; and even sprung a monologue from “Henry IV” on an unprepared reporter at a Barnes & Noble cafe.

Police have intervened on more than one occasion, but their involvement seems to embolden rather than deter Salty Shakespeare’s group of committed, mostly young actors. They’re fighting, Linehan Charles says, for the survival of theater itself.

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