Raising the Bard in San Diego!


ALEX SANDIE, Founder of the San Diego Shakespeare Society

Bringing the Bard to a new generation

By David Dixon


A family tradition in Balboa Park is returning on April 28. On the last Saturday of the month, the 13th annual Student Shakespeare Festival, presented by the San Diego Shakespeare Society, will feature students from kindergarten to high school performing scenes that the Bard wrote for his famous plays.

The event was originally started by the founder of the society, Alex Sandie. Alex was born and raised in Scotland, and now lives in Del Cerro after bouncing around the world.

Sandie met his wife in Egypt during their time working for the Royal Air Force. Ironically, they both lived less than 30 miles away from each other in Scotland.

Dissatisfied with his work and housing situation, Alex and his wife moved to Canada for a period of time, and then to Los Angeles.

After eight years in LA, Alex was offered a job opportunity in San Diego, and he’s been a Del Cerro resident since 1971 — a neighborhood that he enjoys for its proximity to natural areas like Mission Trails Regional Park.

“I’m at the age now where I have to drive through the trails instead of walking through the regional park,” he said. “It’s wonderful. I also really like Lake Murray. You’re still in the city, but it really feels like a part of nature.”

Wanting to create more Scottish organizations, Sandie founded six Scottish-themed groups in San Diego such as the San Diego Edinburgh Sister City Society and the Robert Burns Club of San Diego.

In addition, he’s acted in productions all over San Diego County.

As Shakespeare is something that Sandie is passionate about, he founded the San Diego Shakespeare Society. Although he has since resigned as the president of the company, Sandie still serves as the artistic director.

“We want to bring the education of Shakespeare to students at an early age,” he said of the Student Shakespeare Festival’s mission.

Six stages are being rented for the Shakespeare Festival, both at the El Prado pedestrian promenade as well as the Casa Del Prado area.

An aspect about the Shakespeare Society that Alex Sandie hopes to see evolve is the use of volunteers.

“We need more volunteer workers to head up the annual events,” he said. “We need people to act as a treasurer, helping with fundraising, etc., with the six events that the society puts on each year.”

Sandie’s daughter, Lisa, is the current festival director. Her responsibilities include getting volunteers, reaching out to schools that participated in previous festivals, and contacting new schools.

When asked about ways that the Shakespeare celebration can expand, Lisa feels that there are multiple ways to achieve success.She has attended the event every year, to support her father and family. Lisa, who currently lives in Vista, grew up in the Del Cerro house.

“I think that we need a bigger organization that can get the grants that we can’t,” she said. “We’re going to be looking into ways to increase attending, funding, and publicity.”

Outside of the festival, Lisa owns a homeowner’s association management company. “The festival project has been passed on from my dad as a labor of love,” she said. “I want my children and grandchildren to appreciate the arts like my parents taught my sister and I.”

Following the festival, Alex Sandie is going to continue being a part of the Shakespeare Society.

“I spend probably more hours than I should on the computer working on society business,” he said.

Sandie loves the enjoyment that students get out of the festival.

“A teacher keeps on telling me that most of her kids say this is the best day of their lives,” he said. “It’s very heartening and educational for them.”

Given how impactful the tradition continues to be for audiences and rising performers, Sandie has plenty of reasons to be proud of all his accomplishments. A large number of children and teenagers are going to become Shakespeare aficionados for life because of his work and success.

The 13th annual Student Shakespeare Festival will be held at Balboa Park on April 28. For tickets or more information, visit sandiegoshakespearesociety.org.

— David Dixon is a freelance theater and film writer. Reach him at daviddixon0202@gmail.com.



Celebrate Shakespeare’s Birthday with NVA and Richard Lederer!


 It’s been just over 400 years since William Shakespeare’s death, but Union-Tribune language columnist Richard Lederer will demonstrate that Shakespeare is alive and well, and living robustly in San Diego. With excerpts and performances featuring Lederer and three NVA actors, the Bard will come to life this April!ONE NIGHT ONLY!Tickets: $20CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS


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                                        AS YOU LIKE IT OPEN READINGphoto of readers

Patricia Elmore Costa, Director *(see below)

Tuesday MAY 1, 2018

6:45 PM to 8:45 PM

Upstart Crow Bookstore and Coffeehouse, Seaport Village, 835 West Harbor Drive

                                                          THE PLAY

As You Like It subverts the traditional rules of romance. Gender roles, nature and politics are confused in a play that reflects on how bewildering yet utterly pleasurable life can be. Forced into exile in the Forest of Arden, lovers Rosalind and Orlando become entangled in a beguiling game of love, lust and mistaken identity. The play has some of the loveliest poetry Shakespeare wrote, including the famous “All the world’s a stage…” speech.


*Patricia Elmore Costa. Ms.Costa is the founder and Artistic Director of the San Diego Actors Theater. She began her career performing with Second City in Chicago. She’s an award winning actor and director in projects with:
The Old Globe
San Diego Repertory
North Coast Repertory
Playwrights Project
Diversionary Theater

Ms. Costa recently directed a very successful production of Edward Albee’s “The Zoo Story” in an outdoor setting at San Diego’s Pioneer Park. She is the past President of the Screen Actor’s Guild, San Diego and VP of AFTRA, San Diego. Ms. Costa has over 100 TV and Radio commercials to her credit.

You’re invited! Join us for an informal time with the Bard, starring you! All are welcome. Parts are recast after each scene so all who want to can read. You can simply listen but you may find that it looks like so much fun you may just want to jump in and read too! Please bring your own copy of the play if possible or buy one at the bookstore. We MAY have an extra copy or two. These popular readings are fun, interactive, creative and great public speaking and acting practice. They are also a wonderful way to meet other people who are interested in literature and Shakespeare and his works.


                         READING SCHEDULE FOR 2018

UPSTART CROW BOOKSTORE AND COFFEEHOUSE in Seaport Village. 835 West Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA. Phone 619.232.4855. This is a charming bookstore and coffeehouse with comfortable chairs and tables serving coffee and snacks, books and gifts. Readings were previously here and now we’re back.

Parking information below.

Readings are on the first Tuesday of every month . 


Tuesday Jan 2:  Julius Caesar – Thomas Haine directing

Tuesday Feb 6:  Julius Caesar  (2nd Half) – Thomas Haine directing

Tuesday Mar 6:  Romeo and Juliet – Charles Riendeau directing

Tuesday Apr 3:  Romeo and Juliet (2nd Half)– Charles Riendeau directing

Tuesday May 1:  As you like it – Patricia Elmore Costa directing

Tuesday Jun 5:  As you like it  (2nd Half) – Patricia Elmore Costa directing

Tuesday July 3:  Much Ado about Nothing – Kim Keeline directing

Tuesday Aug 7:  Much Ado about Nothing (2nd Half) – Kim Keeline directing

Tuesday Sept 4: The Tempest – Gordon Gidlund directing

Tuesday Oct   2:  The Tempest  (2nd Half) – Gordon Gidlund directing

Tuesday Nov  6:  Macbeth– Darryl Woodson directing

Tuesday Dec. 4:  Macbeth (2nd Half) – Darryl Woodson directing


Seaport Village Parking Lot - Upstart Crow will validate your ticket with purchase. $5 for the first 3 hours.

Embarcadero Marina Park – Bring quarters to feed the meters $1.75/hr (the meters also take cards).  Parking is free after 8:00 PM.

Questions or comments please e-mail President Darryl Woodson at dtw.3439@gmail.com.




(Article by Richard Lederer reprinted with permission)

The Elizabethan age was the age of the sonnet, a compact fixed verse form written in iambic pentameter, a metrical foot that captures the beating of the human heart  da DA, da DA  and consists of three quatrains (four-line clusters) and a couplet (two lines). It was in the Elizabethan Age that the sonnet landed in England and flourished, with William Shakespeare becoming its most luminous practitioner.

The sonnet has endured and prevailed because it exerts tremendous pressure per square syllable and accomplishes a great deal in a small space. The compactness of the form radiates pleasure not for itself but for what it can do to shape and share the hum and buzz of life.

This past Monday evening, on the Shiley stage at the Old Globe, a number of local celebrities performed in the 16th annual evening of Celebrity Sonnets. In addition to the imaginative interpretations that the performers sang, danced and acted, the evening honored the life and work of the distinguished oceanographer Walter Munk, who will reach 100 years of age this coming Wednesday. He lives in La Jolla with his wife Mary in a home called Seiche, a name that signifies a wave that sways back and forth. Walter and Mary have been long-time supporters of the San Diego Shakespeare Society, and Seiche is the setting wherein each year we celebrate the Bard’s birthday.

Dr. Munk was at the center of the Golden Age of exploration and research that transformed the Scripps Institute of Oceanography from a diminutive marine station into one of the world’s pre-eminent oceanographic entities. His deep-water expeditions uncovered a hitherto undiscovered world of life, a truly abysmal enterprise, and he was the first to show rigorously why one side of the moon always faces earth. In 2010, Walter Munk was awarded the prestigious Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences “for his pioneering and fundamental contributions to our understanding of ocean circulation, tides and waves, and their role in the Earth’s dynamics.”

Recognizing Walter Munk’s colossal contributions to human understanding, I composed a sonnet for the special evening of Celebrity Sonnets. I work within the vessel of the classic rhyme scheme of the Shakespearean sonnet  abab cdcd efef gg but in the third quatrain of my poem, I employ a single rhyme and allude to Ariel’s song in Shakespeare’s comedy “The Tempest”:

Full fathom five thy father lies.
Of his bones are coral made.
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.



Our 16th Annual Celebrity Sonnets at The Old Globe!


San Diego Raises the Bard for Shakespeare’s Sonnets

 William Shakespeare is alive and well and living robustly in America’s finest city. The San Diego Shakespeare Society, on whose board I sit, will soon be presenting its 16th annual evening of Celebrity Sonnets. On Monday, October 9, starting at 7:30 pm, local celebrities and performers will dramatize the sonnets to a vast audience through a montage of imaginative interpretations.

Onstage I’ll be joined by the likes of legendary actor Jonathan McMurtry, Kathi Diamant and Byron Ladue, 10-year-old starlet Catalina Zelles, mellifluous singers and three unique dance performances. KUSI’s Dave Scott will emcee. The venue is the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage at the Old Globe Theatre, our city’s most venerable cultural institution. For details, click www.sandiegoshakespearesociety.org.

Shakespeare wrote about the immortality that literature confers upon people born at the tip of a pen. His Sonnet 18 opens with a question to the speaker’s beloved and then an answer:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? 
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.                                                                      
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

The poet goes on to show that while all things living are subject to the mutability of nature and ravages of time, thy eternal summer shall not fade. The adored will slip the surly bonds of mortality:

Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,                                                      
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st.

Here the “lines” refer to the sonnet itself, in which the darling can live forever in the hearts of generations of readers.

All Shakespearean sonnets close with a couplet, in this brief compass 20 monosyllables in succession:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,                                                              
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

“This” refers to the sonnet itself, which, through its enduring luminescence, confers an eternal summer on its subject.






bookstar reading

One of our free, join-in open Shakespeare readings in progress


San Diego, CA 92110 

  • Tuesday January 3rd, 2017 –  Richard III - Tom Haine directing
  • Tuesday February 7th, 2017 –  Richard III - Tom Haine directing
  • Tuesday March 7th, 2017 – Merchant of Venice – Charlie Riendeau directing
  • Tuesday April 4th, 2017 – Merchant of Venice – Charlie Riendeau directing
  • Tuesday May 2nd, 2017 – Love’s Labour’s Lost – Patricia Elmore Costa directing
  • Tuesday June 6th, 2017 - Love’s Labour’s Lost - Patricia Elmore Costa directing
  • Wednesday July 5th, 2017 – Henry IV Part 1 – Kim Keeline directing
  • Tuesday August 1st, 2017 –  Henry IV Part 1 – Kim Keeline directing
  • Tuesday September 5th, 2017 – Twelfth Night - Michael Reynolds directing
  • Tuesday October 3rd, 2017 –  Twelfth Night – Michael Reynolds directing
  • Tuesday November 7th, 2017 –  Merry Wives of Windsor – Kim Keeline directing
  • Tuesday December 5th, 2017 – Merry Wives of Windsor – Kim Keeline directing

There’s also a Meetup page for our readings:
>> San Diego Shakespeare Society Meetup

For questions or comments please contact President Darryl Woodson  (dtw.3439@gmail.com )


FAQs about the Open Readings

Q:  Do I have to read?
A:  No, absolutely not.  You are welcome to show up and just watch.  We suspect, however, that it will look like too much fun for you to resist for long. A lot of newcomers don’t want to read initially but when they see how fun it is, they join in! But there is no pressure at all if you just want to watch and we have regular attendees who have never read.

Q: Do I have to bring a book?
A:  You don’t need to have a text if you just want to listen, but it can be fun to follow along in a text even if you are not reading. At readings held at libraries, copies are kindly provided by the library. At other readings, if you do want to read it is recommended that you bring your own copy of the text to be read that night, a Complete Works, or at least a smartphone or tablet so you can find the text online.

Q: Can I act as a specific character or be in a particular scene?
A:  That may be possible.  Each evening has an assigned director who has planned what scenes to cover.  If you are really anxious to act in a specific scene, talk to the director at the start and see what can be arranged.  No guarantees, but if the scene is being done that night, it might be possible.  All scenes are cast that night right before they are read, so usually everyone who wants to act has the chance to do at least a small role.

Q: Who can participate?
A:  Everyone!  They are free and open to the public.

Q: I went and it was fun. Are more readings planned in different locations?
A:  Great. We would like to expand to new venues where there may be an audience for this fun event.




**Starring Jonathan McMurtry as Prospero**

Sunday, September 10, 2017   3:00 PM

Thomas Jefferson School of Law Campus
1155 Island Ave, San Diego, CA

View our flyer! Click the image below to enlarge it.

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The Plot:

After the events depicted in The Tempest and after the return to Naples from that uncharted island in the Mediterranean, King Alonso dies suddenly. His son Ferdinand succeeds to the throne but soon falls under the malicious influence of Prospero’s brother, the unrepentant Antonio. He convinces Ferdinand that they were all stranded on the island by the deliberate actions of Prospero and that by sinister means Prospero bewitched King Alonso into reinstating him as Duke of Milan. As this title was gained by trickery, it is null and void. Prospero is thus again deposed, with Antonio again becoming Duke. Criminal charges are brought against Prospero for piracy, witchcraft, and false imprisonment. Under the circumstances, the wedding of Miranda and Ferdinand is off.

The audience gets to vote on whether Prospero is innocent or guilty as charged.


The Cast:

Prospero ~ Jonathan McMurtry
Caliban ~ Mark C. Petrich
Antonio ~ Raymond Lynch
Sidney St. John ~ Susan Benninghoff
Miranda ~ Alexis Park
Ferdinand ~ Thomas Block
Presiding Judge ~ Bryan H. Wildenthal, Professor, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Prosecution Counsel ~ Anne Perry, Esq.
Defense Counsel ~ Sam Bettwy, Adjunct Professor, Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Script by Gordon Gidlund, Esq.

Directed by Thomas Haine, Esq.

Admission :

This is a fundraiser for the SDSS. We need your support to help with all our year around activities.

$20 non-members; $10 society members, seniors, students, military.

Doors open at 2:30 PM. The trial will be held in the Moot Courtroom on the 2nd floor.

Tickets may be purchased at the door. www.sandiegoshakespearesociety.org. 

An optional wine and cheese reception will follow the program, cost $15, which should be added to the ticket price when you book, with the number in your party.

Street Parking is limited. We recommend the reasonable parking at the Parkade, one block away from the venue.. Please see this link for address and cost:

We Do Shakespeare All Year ‘Round!

Celebrity Sonnets

William Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets in addition to his plays.  He dealt with themes of love, loss, aging, jealousy, and the nature of writing.

Our really fun Celebrity Sonnets event is held every year at The Old Globe in Balboa Park.

At each Celebrity Sonnets event, we ask actors, local celebrities, musicians, dancers and specially invited guests to perform their choice of Shakespeare’s immortal and mysterious poems of love and passion. They can interpret them in any way, so it is always a unique and creative event.

Our 16th Annual Celebrity Sonnets at The Old Globe

- MONDAY OCTOBER 9. 2017 at 7:30 pm. Doors open 7.00 pm.
- The Old Globe in Balboa Park
– Includes music, dance, poetry and lots of fun.
– This is always a Bard-tastic night out!
– Tickets: $20 Non-Members, $10 Members/Senior/Military.

Performers at the Celebrity Sonnets have included

Vox Nobili Madrigal Ensemble
- Leigh Scarritt Productions Ensemble
San Diego Civic Youth Ballet with Vanessa Dinning
Tangocentric Dance Project
Jonathan McMurtry
and more..

>> See the complete program from the 2016 Celebrity Sonnets at the Old Globe

>> Read Richard Lederer’s article about the 2016 Celebrity Sonnets.


Our Celebrity Sonnets events are our main fund raiser to support our Annual Student Shakespeare Festival.


Great picture from the 2015 Celebrity Sonnets at The Old Globe




Recorded at The Old Globe in Balboa Park, San Diego. October 13th 2014

 The video was recorded and edited for us by Shamus Brown. THANKS SHAMUS!


>> San Diego Union Tribune: Article by Richard Lederer about the 2015 Old Globe Sonnets

>> KPBS: Article including audio of some of our celebrities reading sonnets!



Jonathan McMurtry, Actor and Associate Artist at the Old Globe

Jonathan McMurtry performs at the October 2014 Celebrity Sonnets at the Old Globe

– Zandra Rhodes, internationally famous fashion designer and set designer for opera
– Ross Porter,  KSDS FM
Richard Lederer, Union Tribune Columnist and Noted Author. See his article.
San Diego Civic Youth Ballet
Leigh Scarritt Productions
- Claudia Russell, Program Director, and Jeff Dalrymple, KSDS Jazz88.3 FM
– Catalina Zelles (actress/student)
– Kasey Kay, Concert Pianist
– Des McAnuff, Tony award winning Artistic Director
– Barry Edelstein, OId Globe Artistic Director
Vox Nobili madrigal ensemble
– San Diego Civic Dance Arts
– Miles Anderson
– Cynthia Stokes, SD Opera Director
– Diane Welch, Writer
– Pat Launer, Art Critic
Dr. William A. Nericcio, Professor of Comparative Literature, SDSU
– Michael Morgan, Educator, Conductor & Vocal Director
– Gabe Krut, Student, Actor, award-winner Student Shakespeare Festival
Choral Scholars, USD


The Celebrity Sonnets are brought to you with a generous donation from the County of San Diego, Community Projects Grant, and with major funding from a grant from the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.




Thanks also to The Old Globe in San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park.

the Old Globe logo

Thanks to the following corporate sponsors for their kind help



We also thank all of our other wonderful sponsors and donors. See a list of them.

And our special thanks to Walkers Shortbread for their generous donation of delicious shortbread at Society events.

walkers shortbread small

Thanks also to our performers and you the audience!



Thanks to all who attended, volunteered at, or performed in the Festival on Saturday April 29th in Balboa Park!!

>> Read Beth Accomando’s article on KPBS about this year’s festival.

And here’s Beth’s video she filmed at the Festival:


Hope to see you all again next year!!

>> Visit our Student Festival page