Presenting Shakespeare

I just got my copy of Mirko Ilic and Steven Heller’s new book, Presenting Shakespeare. It contains 1,100 posters from around the world — India, Poland, New Zealand, Turkey, Switzerland — over 50 in all. They start as early as 1779 and run through work from the present day.

Of the 1,100 selected, just 75 posters are for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with designs for London’s Savoy Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, and the Royal Shakespeare Company, among many other notable productions in dozens of countries. And of these, only 18 are from the United States. These include works by such graphic design luminaries as Milton Glaser and Art Chantry.

MidsummerPostcard-72dpiOh yeah.

And in this overwhelming overview, there’s a poster for a production at Santa Monica High School that happened to feature a young man named Gabriel Freeman as Demetrius. A poster designed by… me!

I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to be included in this collection. I’m honored, excited, nonplussed, and out of adjectives.

I have to say that the design reflects the vision of our talented director Darryl Hovis and wonderfully creative set/costume designer Shannon Kennedy, both of whom inspired the weirdness of using a Papua New Guinea mud man as the main eerie image. But the rouge on the cheeks was all mine.

The book is pretty wonderful if you love either design or Shakespeare. You can buy it on Amazon. I’m on page 163. (But you can see the poster right here.)

Pippin at Samohi

PIppin graphic

I’m working on a campaign for the musical “Pippin” which Santa Monica High School is putting on starting March 7. The theater department there is something I’ve supported for 5 years now. I love creating posters for them that are evocative and professional. I hope they inspire the young actors, musicians and production geeks to put forth their best efforts, and that they let audiences expect a high-quality experience, which in turn supports the program.

The productions do live up to the campaigns. (And sometimes surpass them!) If you get a chance to attend, it’ll be an entertaining experience, and you’ll be supporting a wonderful cause.

Still vicious, still vibrant: The Threepenny Opera

“Yeah, yeah. ‘Mack the Knife.’ ‘Pirate Jenny. We know….”
But maybe you don’t know that Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill changed the course of musical theater. They brought agitprop to Broadway. Suddenly commercially produced singing and dancing could be used for biting social commentary. Suddenly it could actually mean something. It paved the way for Cabaret, Rent, Chicago and Urinetown. And any other musical that aspires to do more than just entertain.

“As seen through the eyes of two 20th century geniuses, The Threepenny Opera is a revolutionary musical theatre masterpiece, first performed in Berlin in 1928.  Brecht’s brittle, sardonic tale creates a world of beggars, thieves and prostitutes in the colorful, exotic musical saga of Mack the Knife, Polly Peachum and the gritty underworld of Soho. Weill’s jazzy, inventive score captures the ironic tone of the lyrics. Derived from John Gay’s 1728 The Beggar’s Opera, The Threepenny Opera creates a stunning, cabaret world that, eighty years after its premiere, remains an outrageous and cunning satire of society.”

And now the highly creative and talented Theatre Department at Santa Monica High School is performing it just for us locals. It runs for two weeks, starting February 24. Tickets are at samohitheatre.org.
(And, yes, of course we created the poster.)

Shakespeare meets Mudmen

I don’t imagine that the Bard of Avon ever saw a Papua New Guinea Asaro Mudman. But that hasn’t stopped director Darryl Hovis and costume designer Shannon Kennedy from turning the fairies of A Midsummer Night’s Dream into denizens of that Southwest Pacific island forest.

Samohi Theatre presents A Midsummer Night's Dream

Tickets for the December presentation of A Midsummer Night's Dream at Santa Monica High School are available at samohitheatre.org. Photo by Jialiang Gao for peace-on-earth.org

This December, Santa Monica High School will stage the Elizabethan comedy in its Humanities Center Theatre. We created the campaign for the production (pro bono, of course). Designed to show off this fresh take on a beloved classic, our hope is that the image will entice local theater-lovers to want to experience Midsummer again in a whole new way.

Intrigued? You can buy tickets and see it yourself! It runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from December 2 through December 11. (And, oh yeah, my son Gabe plays Demetrius.)

No-budget design

12 Angry Jurors ShirtOne of the challenges I love is designing for clients who have virtually no budget.  And no expectations. It’s a chance to be creative quickly, because they can’t afford for me to spend a huge amount of time on the project… and I can’t either. It’s a chance to see something come to fruition with a minimum of fuss, and often maximum impact compared to what the client is used to.

One recent project in that vein was the identity and promotional material I created for the Santa Monica High School production of 12 Angry Jurors. The play is an adaptation of Reginald Rose’s classic 12 Angry Men that includes both sexes.

Continue reading