A Scheduled Arrival Leaves Shakespeare Waiting in the Wings

The Redlands Shakespeare Festival will take a year off while event founder and artistic director Steven Sabel and his wife, actress Annie Freeman, welcome a new child.

A photo from a previous version of the Redlands Shakespeare Festival. The festival will take a one-year hiatus, it was announced Wednesday. (Photo courtesy Redlands Shakespeare Festival)
A photo from a previous version of the Redlands Shakespeare Festival. The festival will take a one-year hiatus, it was announced Wednesday. (Photo courtesy Redlands Shakespeare Festival)

The board of directors of the Redlands Shakespeare Festival announced it will take a hiatus from this season’s event so that its founder and artistic director, Steven Sabel, can take on a greatly fulfilling production - parenthood.

Sabel and his wife, actress Annie Freeman, are expecting their first child later this month.

"We are so excited about the impending arrival of our baby girl, and we appreciate this opportunity to focus more fully on her," Sabel said through a written news release.

Stella Rose Sabel is due Dec. 24. The festival, meantime, is set to return in May 2015.

"Stella is going to definitely be a theatre baby,” Sabel said. “By next year, we may just see her running around on stage at the Bowl.”

“The board of directors is happy to support Steven and Annie at this very important time in their lives,” said festival president William Arsenault.

Steven Sabel is also the producing artistic director of the Archway Studio/Theatre, which he founded in September 2011. The playhouse in the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District presents 10 productions per year, theater officials wrote.

Below is the rest of the news release that touches on what the board will due during the hiatus:

Arsenault said the festival board will use the off season to further develop the organization and generate a new five-year plan for continued growth. Sabel is scheduled to resume his full duties as artistic director in July, 2014.

During the season off, Sabel and the festival board of directors will be reworking the administrative and artistic structure of the organization to prepare for planned expansion of the board, and additional artistic positions.

"We are looking forward to achieving new goals that will help us present even bigger and better seasons to come," said Arsenault.

The board will also be reviewing new proposals from artistic staff regarding the expansion of the festival's programming and onstage offerings.

"As we continue to grow, we want to offer our audiences and patrons an experience that continues to compare with that of the most successful Shakespeare festivals in the nation," Arsenault said.

During its ten-year history, the festival has produced nine full seasons, including 22 Shakespearean titles, 26 full-scale productions, and more than 100 performances. Nearly 150,000 people have attended festival performances at the Redlands Bowl, and the festival has presented more than 50 free educational workshops and lectures.

"We are very proud of our accomplishments to date, and we look forward to continuing our mission of providing educational and cultural opportunities to the community," said Arsenault.

The City of Redlands Cultural Arts Commission has served as presenting sponsor of the festival since its second season in 2006. Earlier this year, the Commission voted to continue to support the festival for an additional five years. The festival was recognized by the County of San Bernardino as a regional cultural event in 2009.

"I know the community will miss us this Spring, but also I know that people understand the importance of family," said Sabel.

During its season hiatus, the festival will continue to offer its successful educational outreach programs, and special presentations.

"We will still conduct our school site visits and assembly programs. Plus I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve, after we get through the sleepless baby nights I have been warned about," said Sabel.

"I've always wanted us to present a Renaissance costume ball," he said.


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