"All the World's a Stage" for Barry Edelstein, Old Globe's Artistic Director and Shakespeare Aficionado

By Evan Henerson
20 Apr 2014

Barry Edelstein
Barry Edelstein
Photo by Joseph Moran

Old Globe Theatre's artistic director Barry Edelstein talks with Playbill.com about presenting works by William Shakespeare and bringing them to the West coast's Old Globe.


A second generation of the House of Edelstein is following what has become a family tradition of "thinking Shakespeare."

"My daughter, who is six and a half, has been running around quoting Shakespeare for a long time and I sometimes worry that I'm poisoning the well," reported Barry Edelstein, director, author and artistic director of San Diego's Old Globe Theatre. "She's so funny. She has seen so much Shakespeare that she'll see something and say 'Daddy, that's not the kind of Shakespeare I like.' She's six and a half and there's a kind of Shakespeare that she does and doesn't like."

Edelstein himself, who is now considered one of the nation's leading interpreters of the works of Shakespeare, didn't start nearly this young. But having come to the Bard sometime around high school, acting in a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream at public high school in Fair Lawn, NJ, he has pursued the devotion throughout his professional career, most notably during posts as artistic director at Classic Stage Company and overseeing the Shakespeare initiative for Oskar Eustis at the Public Theatre.

Between those two gigs, Edelstein went Hollywood, relocating to Southern California to try to break into episodic TV. Although he picked up some teaching work at USC and did some private coaching, Edelstein refers to that SoCal stint as "my great period of unemployment."

A theatre guy with a knack for the classics going to Tinseltown? The question drew a laugh from Edelstein.

"Why did I do that? That's a really good question. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time," said Edelstein. "It didn't last long. I think part of it was driven by financial considerations. After I had spent many years in nonprofit theatre, some good friends in Hollywood offered to do me a solid and introduce me to some people, and I thought, 'Well it's now or never.' I will say it was a very humbling time. I did not find what I went out there to get.

"I was living in L.A., directing at the Mark Taper Forum, teaching Shakespeare at USC and teaching Shakespearean acting to people in Hollywood who wanted to hone their skills," he continued, "and it just became clear to me that well this is a crazy thing to do because I'm a theatre guy and I've got to own that."


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