‘Book of Will’ Director at Foothill College Talks Importance of Reviving Local Theater Now

Opera theater


A local production of “The Book of Will” closes its curtains on Sunday, giving residents one last opportunity to attend the play at the Lohman Theater at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

And director Bruce McLeod says it’s a staple, calling it a “shameless ode to the magic of the theater” and a Mecca for comedians.

The award-winning play written by Lauren Gunderson in 2018 explores what the world would have been like without the legacy of William Shakespeare as 17th century actors John Heminges and Henry Condell set out on a journey to collect and preserve Shakespeare’s writings. The story is based on two of Shakespeare’s true friends who worked to publish his plays after his death.

But McLeod says “The Book of Will” is also more than Shakespeare.

“If you get Shakespeare and love Shakespeare, there are a lot of jokes in the play that you’ll enjoy,” McLeod says. “But I wouldn’t call it a Shakespeare play, or even a play about him.”

He describes “The Book of Will” as a play that sums up the passion of everyone involved in theater, including the audience.

“That explains why we do theater,” says McLeod. “How this generates emotions in people and helps us think about times in our lives that we don’t necessarily know how to approach.”

That’s why he says he chose this room as we come out of months of intense closures and social isolation, especially as many are still trying to navigate and heal from a global pandemic.

McLeod says it happens best in a community setting, where people can share and share their experiences. Theater is a wonderful way to do just that, he says.

And coming to see “The Book of Will” at Foothill College also gives residents the opportunity to watch the acclaimed play that many might not otherwise have – and at a very affordable price.

“This is by no means a professional production. It is, however, a pretty good production, and it tells the story and allows people to see the play who otherwise might not,” said the director.

McLeod continues that he changed some of the jokes and scenes in the play to relate to the current moment, but didn’t make any major changes.

“We want to hopefully get members of the public out of that anxious feeling of COVID and into something a little more joyful and fun,” McLeod said. “But you can’t do it if you don’t recognize where the people are and where the company is at the time.”

McLeod’s fingerprints can be found all over the production. He has assembled the cast of notable local actors of different ages and backgrounds and serves as production manager and technical director.

He joined the Theater Arts Department at Foothill College in 2007, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience from his work to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon; West Bay Opera House in Palo Alto; and the Magic Theater in San Francisco.

McLeod was also the first technical director and production manager of TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, where he received a nomination at the Theater Bay Area for his stage design for a 2014 production of the musical “Marry Me a Little”, designed by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

He says his goal in any production is to make audiences feel something and make them happy and laugh – especially after 18 months with virtually no theater.

The impacts of COVID still linger in theater, McLeod says. The audience must be vaxxed and masked, and the performers, who are not masked, must maintain a distance of 6 feet from the participants.

McLeod says it changes the way he typically conducts shows, as he often blurs the line between stage and audience seating.

“I don’t have anybody, you know, who walks down the aisles to speak to the audience or be part of the audience or something like that, but it’s great to be back in the theater and the audience has it. shown, “he said. said.

And each week got better as the actors got more comfortable performing and interacting with audience members from the stage.

“So this weekend should be the best yet,” McLeod said. “Laughter and an experience, the ups and downs of emotion – that’s really our goal.”

Sunday’s show starts at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $ 25 for regulars, $ 15 for students, $ 10 for youth under 15 and can be purchased at foothill.edu/theatre or by phone at (650) 949-7360.

McLeod also notes that the show was taped and may be posted online later. If so, information on this can be found at foothill.edu/theatre.

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