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Oral History Spotlight: the Curtain Theatre Returns!

In this series, we spotlight oral histories from our collection. The Mill Valley Oral History Program is an ongoing collaboration between the Mill Valley Historical Society and the Mill Valley Public Library. We gather the stories and opinions of individuals from the community and preserve them for posterity. You can explore this collection of over 250 interviews by visiting us in the History Room at the Library. A growing number of interviews is also available online.

The Curtain Theatre was formed by Mill Valleyans John Leonard, Steve Coleman, and Mikel Clifford. The opening production of Shakespeare's As You Like It was staged in 2000 to celebrate Mill Valley's centennial. With sponsorship from the Mill Valley Arts Commission, the Outdoor Arts Club, Parks and Recreation, and generous community donors, the Curtain Theatre has continued to produce free summer shows in scenic Old Mill Park Amphitheater. The Curtain Theatre postponed its 21st summer production to this year due to COVID-19 but we are excited to have them back with a production of Twelfth Night. To celebrate the Curtain Theatre's 2021 season, why not listen to a recently-added oral history with Steve Beecroft, actor, producer, and fearless fight director?

Since 2000 the Curtain Theatre has brought free theatre to the community with an emphasis on Shakespeare. The company does so out of love for great drama, and in the belief that such gatherings of audience and artists add immeasurably to the quality of life in the community. Its productions bring the historical texts alive with fine acting, live music, dance, colorful sets, and costumes. The shows take advantage of a unique setting nestled in the redwoods and are designed to appeal to bth first-time viewers as well as theatre buffs. 

In 2010 the board established the Curtain Theatre as a non-profit, named after one of London's first public theatres. Built near the Curtain Close in Shoreditch, it was described in Shakespeare's Henry V as the "wooden O." The Curtain was home to Shakespeare's company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, until they constructed the Globe Theatre in 1599. Like Mill Valley's own Curtain Theatre, the 1577 original featured an open-air stage and a conspicuous shortage of curtains!

Debra Schwartz recently sat down with the Curtain Theatre's Steve Beecroft to discuss some of the most memorable Shakespeare plays that he has produced, acted in, and directed, and shares his thoughts on the Bard's genius. Throughout this oral history, Steve conveys his love of performance as well as his joy in being able to bring this cultural offering to the community. You can access Beecroft's lively and insightful interview here.

This year the Curtain Theatre is back with a presentation of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Join the players now through September 6, 2021 in the Old Mill Park Amphitheatre on Saturdays, Sundays, and Labor Day Monday at 2:00 PM. As always, bring a sweater!