“WHAT YOU WILL” – Ensemble Shakespeare at Pasadena’s Lineage Performing Arts Center

PHOTO: Ensemble Shakespeare | South Pasadena News | Ensemble Shakespeare company members Farah Merani and Aubrey Saverino in "What You Will" on stage at Lineage Performing Arts Center in Pasadena.

The Ensemble Shakespeare Theater will open a new run of popular ever-changing “Shakespearean Un-Play”, What You Will, starting February 9th at Pasadena’s Lineage Performing Arts Center.

After a sold-out week of shows at Descanso Gardens’ Under the Oaks Amphitheater in autumn, the Pasadena-based ensemble behind What You Will took a hiatus to make something new, yet again, out of Shakespeare’s words. They return February 9th with a whole new lineup of original takes on Shakespeare’s words in an 80-minute performance of genre-flexible theater.

The Ensemble is a group of professional actors from TV, film, and theater around LA, who create each iteration of What You Will using Shakespeare’s language to make 5-minute mini plays. There are 10-12 pieces each night that are each helmed by an individual in the Ensemble, then developed by the group.

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“Each piece is personal to the actor creating it,” says cofounder Brian Elerding, “so each evening’s performance covers everything from the sublime to the banal, the silly to the profound. It’s probably the most surprising and inspiring night of Shakespeare you’ll find anywhere.”

What You Will’s home is an intimate space: the 78 seat black box theater of the Lineage Performing Arts Center. “The theater at Lineage is ideal for a show like ours,” explains performer and cofounder Fred Cross, “the audience is close enough to envelop into the action and the space’s potential helps give each mini-play its own unique setting..”

The theme for each run changes throughout the year, allowing for fans of the show to return regularly to enjoy new, intriguing shows. The theme for the next three months of What You Will is “Hot Courage and High Desire”, which is, as their ticketing page points out, a Shakespeare quote pulled just in time for Valentine’s Day. The show’s themes occasionally slip into adult territory, so mature audiences are recommended. Masks are required for all guests.

The Ensemble’s ticket prices are in the $5-20 range to encourage people to give their wild and risky takes on Shakespeare a chance, and the ticketing website claims that no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

What You Will runs every second Thursday of the month at the Lineage Performing Arts Center, 920 E. Mountain Street in Pasadena. Tickets are available on the Ensemble’s website at www.ensembleshakes.org. The venue offers free on-site parking, and is fully ADA accessible.