Merced County Times Newspaper
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MARCH 13 – 15 Audition for the Shakespearefest film version of Don Quixote

Community members have the opportunity to appear in a small or large way inMerced Shakespearefest’s upcoming work, “Don Quixote de la Merced”, by auditioning on March 13 or 15.

Because of the success of the bilingual film of Shakespeare’s “Richard II” created last year, Merced Shakespearefest has started working on an eight-part bilingual screen adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote”, written byÁngel Núñez and William Wolfgang.

Episodes from Don Quixote which are 10 minutes long will premier starting in August through Merced Shakespearefest’s social media platforms.  In total, the production will last about 1-1/2 hours.

Merced Shakespearefest is hoping to attract diverse participants from Mercedand the surrounding region.  Bilingual or monolingual participants (in either Spanish or English) are encouraged to attend the open audition via Zoom.

Heike Hambley, Artistic Director of Merced Shakespearefest, told the Times, “‘Don Quixote de la Merced’ is the name of the production.

“Auditions will take place on Zoom.  There’s a link to click on our website, www.mercedshakespearefest.org, and it will get you to an audition form to fill out, and you can practice reading the scenes.

“The auditions are at 11 a.m. on March 13, and 7 p.m. on March 15, and  people will meet on Zoom and will read for parts.

“We hope to have a full cast by April.  The rehearsals will start in early April.

“Don Quixote, a famous work by Miguel de Cervantes, is heralded as the very first novel in world literature.

“The author was a contemporary of William Shakespeare.

“Cervantes died one day before Shakespeare in 1616, and they were living very much at the same time, one in England and one in Spain.

“The main character, Don Quixote, is an elderly gentleman.  At the time the action is portrayed, there were no longer knights traveling through the country helping damsels in distress or any others who were treated unjustly.

“The Middle Ages was long gone, so this is the story of a nobleman in Spain who had read all the books and poetry about this knightly ideal.  He wants so badly to be a knight in armor on a horse going through the countryside and helping people, but life is different.  It has changed and it is no longer like that.

“The story of his adventures is both funny and touching.

“The story is about what he sees; however, those around him see something completely different.

“The other main role is Don Quixote’s squire, Sancho Panza.  Every knight has a good squire, and he found a farm laborer in the next town who gets excited about it and he is always with Don Quixote, and brings common sense into the story.

“Most people who have read Cervantes’ novel remember the part about Don Quixote and the windmills.  He thinks the windmill must be somebody he has to fight, another knight, and he believes he has arms with weapons going to and fro and he doesn’t understand these are windmills.

“He wants to fight the windmills with his lance, but he gets hurt and ends up lying on the ground, injured.  Sancho Panza tells him they are not knights – – they are windmills.  This kind of thing happens all the time in his adventures until in the end, Don Quixote talks about righting all wrongs in the world, and making everything better for everyone, but he can’t.

“I won’t say how it ends because it should be a surprise.

“In our film, the horse he supposedly rides will be a beat up bike.  The wind mills will be those on Altamont Pass.  The almond orchards around Merced will be the background, and we will be able to see the mountains.

“The other characters are Don Quixote’s niece, and a friend who is a professor, and they always talk with him and help him see reality, but there is something beautiful about the way Don Quixote perceives these ideals about how he could make the world better.

“We are filming in the Merced area during the last two weekends of May.  The area works well as a background for Don Quixote.  We need to film very early in the morning when it’s quiet and not too hot.

“For the film, we need people to stand in and walk by, like extras or cameo appearances.  There are a lot of people who like the idea of appearing in one scene who don’t have time for rehearsals.

“The director is William Wolfgang, who is very good.  He is the same one as for our film of the Shakespeare play, ‘Richard II’, which we mostly refer to as ‘Ricardo II’.

“Although I am the Artistic Director of Merced Shakespearefest, the director will do the casting.  I hope I will be in there, even in a small role.

“Sometimes people are wondering if they can do a bilingual role, and I hope that will not be a barrier for them because what we’re trying to do half the lines in English and half the lines in Spanish, so there are enough roles where we need English speaking people, and that’s perfectly fine.

“When there is English being spoken, we have Spanish subtitles in the film, and where there is Spanish being spoken, we have English subtitles.

“This takes a lot of time.

“The cinematographer is Sean Overton.

“We hope to start the premiere episode in early August.

The easiest way to see it is on You Tube, where you type Merced Shakespeare Fest and go to our channel and choose the new production.

“Another way to see it is through Facebook, and also on our website, which is www.mercedshakespearefest.org .”

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