The Roots of Shakespeare on the Vine

While Calaveras County draws people from all over the map, this community is ripe with Millenials and Generation X’ers who grew up here, left to travel the world or study their craft, and then returned here to carve out their own niche. As the region’s economy evolves, native sons and daughters find new opportunities to bring their vision to the local arts and cultural scene.

A Scene from Taming of the Shrew at Brice Station | Photo Courtesy of Brice Station Vineyards
A Scene from Taming of the Shrew at Brice Station | Photo Courtesy of Brice Station Vineyards

Tara Kayton is one of those creative entrepreneurs, returning to Calaveras after working in professional theatre in New York and earning a Master’s Degree in Theatre from Yale and a Certificate in Shakespeare Studies from Oxford. This will be the second summer for her new theatre company, Shakespeare on the Vine, which has partnered with Brice Station Vineyards. That partnership helped Brice Station secure last year’s win for Most Innovative Attraction, and starting in mid June, the venue will be extra busy as the Shakespeare team begins rehearsals for the summer showings of As You Like It.

Tara Kayton, Producing Artistic Director for Shakespeare on the Vine
Tara Kayton, Producing Artistic Director for Shakespeare on the Vine

Expect a lively and engaging experience in this comedic romance, with a French Cabaret forest, a live band and multiple stages. The company’s mission is to be fearless in its presentation of art, and Kayton aims to find fun and compelling ways to tell the Shakespeare stories in ways that keeps actors and audience on their toes. “Doing Shakespeare outside at a winery, for New Yorkers, is very attractive,” she says of the professional actors she brings in. With all the activity going on at Brice, it provides the crew with a dynamic working environment.

Kayton’s goal is to create a professional regional theatre that will attract high caliber talent for seasonal shows, while making the whole experience accessible and entertaining to its audience. That includes an “Industry Night,” a Monday night (August 1 this year) where the locals and other performers who work on weekends can get a chance to come see the show.

While the show is running, she’ll team up with Gold Country Roasters in Murphys to hold a series of informal Shakespeare themed chats, called “Bean and the Bard.” These free, weekly get-togethers will be modeled on the Book Club idea, and open to anyone interested in the play or fans of Shakespeare. That one is still in the planning stages – but hints at what could grow into somewhat of a local institution. Shakespeare on the Vine recently got its official nonprofit status and will be looking to expand with educational programming as well.

Don’t miss the experience of seeing live theatre on the hilltop this summer at Brice Station. Picnics are encouraged, Brice Station Wines are available for purchase on site, and there will be catered dinners for purchase on select nights. Check their website for those details. They also recommend bringing something warm for cool summer evenings, and chairs – unless you get there early enough to grab one of their plastic seats for the night.

If you’re active on social media, you can follow their rehearsal process through Instagram at “Shakespeare on the Vine”

William Shakespeare’s As You Like It
Directed By Tara Kayton

July 27 – August 16
Thursday, Friday and Saturday Nights at 7:00pm. Hilltop opens at 5:00p

Tickets on sale here

Brice Station Winery
3353 E. Highway 4
Murphys, CA

Looking for more theater in the area? You can enjoy an evening stroll through Murphys followed by a small glass of wine and live theater in the charming Black Bart Playhouse. Artistic Director Graham Greene’s theater company is known as the Murphys Creek Theatre. View their website to get a sneak peek at their provocative and eclectic line up of premiere and classic plays.  For the Shakespeare fans among you, this month’s performance is Measure for Measure.

William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure
Directed by Raquel Ruelas
June 24 – July 17
Friday and Saturday at 7:00pm;  Sunday 2:00pm

Tickets on sale here

Black Bart Playhouse
580 S. Algiers Street
Murphys, CA 95247