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Intrepid Shakespeare making permanent home in Encinitas

After almost five years of bringing theater to the community, Intrepid Shakespeare Company is making Encinitas its permanent home. The company plans to announce its new location, which will be called “Intrepid Theater Company,” at its annual gala Feb. 8 at the Green Dragon Tavern and Museum in Carlsbad.

“In five years, we have grown tremendously,” said Christy Yael-Cox, CEO and producing artistic director. “We are very fortunate, but it makes sharing space really difficult, so we are looking for our own permanent home.”

Longtime actors with a love of Shakespeare, Yael-Cox and her husband, Sean Cox, founded the company in February 2009 to bring the famous playwright’s stories to the stage. The pair met while working on a 2008 production of “Three Days of Rain,” a three-person play at Compass Theatre in San Diego.

“There weren’t a lot of opportunities in San Diego for local artists to work on Shakespeare unless you were going to do it at The Old Globe, and the Globe was only doing a couple of productions a year in 2009,” Yael-Cox recalled.

By the summer of 2009, Intrepid made its debut with “Macbeth” at Compass Theatre. Shortly afterward, the new company started an education program, offering condensed, 50-minute versions of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Romeo and Juliet” at local elementary, middle and high schools.

“We realized we had stumbled upon something for which there was a great need,” Yael-Cox said. “Teachers were having a difficult time teaching this material. The kids were having a hard time understanding it. Shakespeare was never meant to be read. They’re not novels; they’re plays.”

With Intrepid quickly growing, the couple looked to move the new company to Encinitas in 2010.

“We just thought it was a better home for us,” said Yael-Cox, who lived with her family in Encinitas at the time. Her children still attend school in the community. “Encinitas is an art-forward community, but there’s no theater there and there has never been a theater there. Now, everything is moving in that direction, which is great.”

With the help of the city of Encinitas, Intrepid partnered with San Dieguito Academy to establish an internship program. Through the program and under the guidance of professional actors, students collaborated on their own versions of the professional productions done by the company.

“It was a really unique program,” said Yael-Cox, who made her acting debut as a fairy in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” when she was 8 years old. Her two children are now in third grade and preschool. “It was very successful and the kids got a lot out of it.

“I’ve been a lover and participant in theater since I was a very, very young child. I believe that it can and does make the world a better place.”

Since relocating Intrepid to North County, the company has expanded its repertoire, featuring a mix of Shakespeare plays and modern classics. Every year, Intrepid produces four mainstage productions. The company also offers a monthly play reading series at the Encinitas Library.

Intrepid’s education program has also grown, now offering afterschool classes and summer camps. These programs are in addition to the Shakespeare school tours, which have served more than 45,000 students at more than 50 Southern California schools.

“The thing that I like best about my job and the thing that I am most proud of is the creation of programs — starting something from scratch, making it successful and serving the community in a profound way,” Yael-Cox said. ”That’s why I feel lucky to do what I do.”

“It’s been pretty remarkable — the support that we’ve had from the community in North County, as well as all the local theater artists,” added Cox, who serves as co-artistic director and director of education. “I’m constantly amazed with how much we have going on.”

Because the theater program at San Dieguito Academy has also grown, leaving little space in the department’s calendar, Intrepid is now partnering with other local schools.

The company is closing its fifth season with “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” to run Feb. 13 through March 15 at the new Performing Arts Center at San Marcos High School. That school is a transitional venue for Intrepid as the company moves into the next phase of its expansion, which includes plans for a new home in Encinitas.

Although the couple couldn’t release any details, they promised to confirm Intrepid’s new location during the annual gala. Set for 6-9 p.m. Feb. 8, tickets for the event cost $125. To buy tickets, visit www.intrepidshakespeare.com/about-us/2014-gala.

“Now that we’re moving into season six, we’re focused on landing in our own home, where we’ll be able to offer all of our different programs,” said Cox, who has worked in the industry for nearly 20 years. “There will be something for everybody.”

For information, call 760-295-7541 or visit www.intrepidshakespeare.com.


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