2020 has been a challenging year for our community, our country, and our world. As is true almost universally, our focus over the past few months has shifted to questions of health, hope, and our national identity. Merced Shakespearefest has always been dedicated to diversity, and all of the beautiful ways that our differences and similarities can bring us together. Black Lives Matter. The health of our community matters. This has been our focus.
But the arts persevere. Our season has been disrupted, but we are pleased to say that our planned projects haven't disappeared, but rather have evolved into something new and exciting.
As many of you may be aware, Merced Shakespearefest's first bilingual production, Ricardo II, was planned for a June stage production. The cast was selected, design concepts were in place, and rehearsals were scheduled when everything shut down in March. The cast and director continued to rehearse online in the hopes of being able to present the project in some way, and after much discussion a solution was found. And this is what we decided:
If we can't do a play, let's make a movie.
As a result, the whole concept behind the show was revamped. In a whirlwind of socially-distanced filming over a two week period, we captured every scene on video with the intention of releasing the entire movie in a series of short episodes. Throughout the process, the cast showed an extraordinary ability to roll with the changes and adjust on the spot as we filmed. We are so proud of the work they put in and what they were able to accomplish.
And we can't wait to share what Ricardo II has become. All filming is complete, and we are currently editing a working on the first episode. We do not yet have a date for its release, but we will certainly let everyone know once we do.
We also have other projects in the works, but we're going to keep those secret for now. Just be aware that we have not disappeared, and that that the voice of The Bard will continue to be heard in Merced, and hopefully communities beyond.