Naked Shakes

Mission & Vision

In 2019, Naked Shakes celebrates its 14th season at UC Santa Barbara, and its mission since 2006 has been to present energetic, exciting, raw, vibrant Shakespeare using the power of the actors and the language. The barren physical theater space is very important to the Naked Shakes concept; it takes on the identity of whatever locale or particular piece of poetic language is described, and yet always reminds the audience they are in a theater. When Prospero in The Tempest describes “the great Globe itself,” he is not only referring to the entire Earth, but also the “Globe” Theater—Shakespeare’s theater. That duality is what Naked Shakes is all about.

Artistic Director’s Statement

What Naked Shakes tries to do is recapture the essence of hearing a Shakespeare play for the first time.  We don’t try to recreate Shakespeare as if it is in a museum.  When you hear ‘To be or not to be, that is the question,’ you should be experiencing it completely fresh, the way it was for Shakespeare’s audience the first time they heard it.  Take a bare stage, a good actor, a good piece of text, great music and sound, a willing audience, and you can make magic happen. - Irwin Appel, Artistic Director

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Irwin Appel has created something tremendous with Death of Kings. An adaptation of eight of Shakespeare’s history plays, Death of Kings condenses the bloody saga … into five hours of pulsating, theatrical turmoil. Both adapter and Director, Appel has succeeded in bringing the pace and intrigue of more modern styles of episodic storytelling…. Death of Kings is a beguiling, boiled-down reworking of the history plays that eliminates cumbersome details. It also serves as an appropriate introduction to the history plays to those less familiar with the works…. Appel’s work, clearly a labor of passion, is a brilliant version of Shakespeare’s history of England….
— Maggie Yates - BroadwayWorld, March 2016