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In the true spirit of “The show must go on”, when the pandemic shut down theatre and in-person gatherings, the students of The Old Globe and University of San Diego Shiley Graduate Theatre program continued to do the work. That work has paid off for the graduating class of 2021 and is being celebrated in their live performance of THINKING SHAKESPEARE LOVE! A celebration of love through Shakespeare’s plays, poems, and songs July 15th and 16th at The Old Globe. It seemed fitting to let the students have a moment to talk about virtual learning, returning to live performances, and what Shakespeare quote they love.

Pictured in the FRONT row (L-R) are Christopher M. Ramirez, Klarissa Marie Robles, and Lily Davis. BACK row (L-R) are Jonathan Aaron Wilson, Claire Simba, Barry Edelstein, Joz Vammer, and Christopher Cruz.

The graduating class includes Christopher Cruz, Lily Davis, Christopher M. Ramirez, Klarissa Marie Robles, Claire Simba, Joz Vammer, and Jonathan Aaron Wilson. Though the program is for live theatre, these seven talented, and resilient graduates attended online classes for 15 months of their two-year graduate program due to the pandemic. Which turned out to be a unique, sometimes daunting, but ultimately valuable experience.

The work became very intimate in isolation, there was nothing romantic about the acting training that took place. The fact that I had the luxury of practice pulled me through the pandemic; teaching me that life and theater are ongoing practice.” – Christopher Cruz

However difficult that time was, I saw some incredible work yielded from my classmates in the virtual realm. I realized that I don’t need a fancy rehearsal studio, lights, cameras, stage, production to commit to powerful storytelling. I know this, there will never again be a live rehearsal or performance that I will take for granted.”Christopher M. Ramirez

The pandemic was a difficult time because, as a black actress, it also coincided with a time of acute social awareness. I was able to define what I wanted my contribution to this art to look like and the type of impact I aspire to make during my career. It also highlighted the importance of having balance in my life. As a working mother, it has always been an ongoing struggle.” Claire Simba

Returning to the stage, and being able to perform Shakespeare with Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director Barry Edelstein hosting has been a joyful and emotional celebration at the end of this journey.

The third day in rehearsal–after I’d gotten most of my TERROR out in the first two days-I had more energy than I’ve had since before even coming to this program in 2019. I felt SO DAMN GRATEFUL and transcendent in the work.” Lily Davis

It’s a joy for sure. I like all the modalities: radio/podcasting, tv/film, but theatre will always have a special place in my heart. I like to see and hear you react to what I’m playing- it tells me what you care about, what’s hurting you, what’s saving you. It’s as much a joy for me to share the laughs and tears as I hope it is for you” – Joz Vammer

For the past year and a half, I have felt like a racehorse impatiently waiting for its starting gate to open. Getting to perform in front of a live audience again means I am back home.” – Jonathan Aaron Wilson

It’s terrifying. It feels like I’m learning how to walk again by taking up space on a large stage. However, I will never take the theatre for granted again.” – Klarissa Marie Robles

Luckily, they were studying Shakespeare, someone who reliably offers memorable quotes to get you through the best and worst of times.

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with asleep.”

“Not only is it a rhythmically gorgeous bit of verse, but it also packs in a whole philosophy of life into just 18 words. It’s a solemn reminder to be playful, light, humble, and present at every moment.” – Jonathan Aaron Wilson

“The worst is not, So long as we can say, ‘This is the worst.'”

“King Lear This is a reminder that even in the worst of times, there is still hope to be found, a tomorrow to hope for. We are all survivors.”Claire Simba

Help celebrate these graduates, the return of live theatre, and Shakespeare’s works on love in THINKING SHAKESPEARE LOVE! Performances will play for two nights only on July 16 and 17 at The Old Globe‘s outdoor venue, the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre. Ticket information is available at and prices start at $20.00.

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