The Innercity Shakespeare Ensemble brings at-risk students into the world of theatre, using Shakespeare’s ageless language and eloquent dramatic insight into people and events. Founded in 2010, this innovative and unique program has brought together hundreds of diverse students from South Central Los Angeles: one of the nation’s most economically challenged areas. Barriers of ethnicities are erased as our Ensemble explores the 17th Century world of the Bard, resulting in a life-changing impact that can be measured far beyond the scope of production and theatrical performance.

In recent years the ensembles formed through the production of numerous Shakespearean plays have gone on to explore a variety of other inspirational works created by some more modern authors, each one with palpable meaning and message to the players and the audiences alike.

Under Artistic Director, Dr. Melanie Andrews, with mentors and industry professionals, hundreds of talented young people joyfully discover their special talents and perform with style before audiences reaching more than 5000 people. In a community blighted by violence, ICSE lives are changed, gang ties are cut.  More than 85% of the student performers are in college, carrying their accomplishment far beyond the 4th wall of the theatre into a lasting impact for the future.

Programs begin with casting audition dates around LA, reaching out to disadvantaged students from Elementary Schools, High Schools and the youth acting community within the LAUSD school district. Once cast, rehearsals and theatrical education begins. 

Over the past ten years, The Innercity Shakespeare Ensemble has engaged students in the appreciation of the wit and wisdom of “The Bard”, enriching their lives with numerous exciting productions.

Summer 2019

Positive Secrets – AIDS and the Hip Hop Generation

True stories about HIV and AIDS through monologues and dance produced in 2019

Positive Secrets was written in response to the death of one of our company from AIDS, at the age of 16. The piece uses original music, hip hop dance and monologues to tell stories gleaned from interviews with local youth who are living with HIV and AIDS. Even though it deals with a dark subject, it is presented with humor and breathtaking dances that reflect the feelings of the stories told. It is a unique piece that was created to save lives.

Below is a short video featuring highlights of  Positive Secrets – AIDS and the Hip Hop Generation 

Positive Secrets – CAST

These young Shakespearean actors used their talents to share the message, with the Hip Hop Generation :: AIDS is still deadly, but it’s preventable and treatable. Featured at LA fringe Festival Summer 2019.




IAGO : A Film Based on Othello

Cast and crew of our prizewinning film IAGO based on Shakespeare’s Othello.









The film was set in the late 1960’s

IAGO has been selected by over 10 film festivals and won the top prize at
The LA Shorts Festival July 2019.



IAGO opening at the Pan African Film Festival February 23, 2019

Amit Bhallia and lead actor Saint Ranson

Iago lead actors Jouvanie Hildreth and Saint Ranson with support Mrs Bhallia Director’s Mother

Hayley Phelan of New York Times, with Director Amit Bhallia and Producer Melanie Andrews




Comedy of Errors


March 2019

Oregon Documentary Film Festival in Portland  

Our documentary, Inner City Dreams, won top prize, the “Most Inspirational Film Award”, at Oregon Documentary Film Festival in Portland 2019

February 2018

For Colored Girls

Cast of “For Colored Girls” performed at the Nate Holden Theater, February 2018


Stage production based on Ntozake Shange’s 1975 original choreopoem ‘for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf’.

Acceptance speech in the U.S. Senate

We were honored to receive the Presidential Medal for Arts and Volunteerism for our work



Spring 2016



Cast of Othello with Charles Malik Whitfield actor from American Horror Story and Emmy winner for The Temptations! Mentor for Innercity Shakespeare Actors

Artistic Director Melanie Andrews with Charles Malik Whitfield and Dr. Steven McCarthy

Five hundred Los Angeles Unified School District Arts Education Students at the Nate Holden performing arts center, viewing Othello

 Spring 2015


Taming of the Shrew 2015  

  Twelfth Night 2015


“Taming of the Shrew” in Culver City  Comedia Style / In The Round – for advanced students            
April 24th in the Rotunda Room in the Veteran’s Memorial Building
May 2nd Grand Park Gala
May 10th   Monteith Park
May 17th   Celebrity Centre
May 24th   Ted Watkins Park


“Twelfth Night” at Hollywood High
April 24th SCHOOL PRODUCTION   twelfth-night-cast-hollywood-high-2015
May 2nd Grand Park Gala
May 9th   Moneith Park
May 16   Victoria Park
May 23rd   Ted Watkins Park




Free Performances at  City & County Parks      May 2nd – 24th 2015

 2015 spring productions poster





Fall 2014

8 by 10” Eight One Act Plays directed by Ensemble Members November 14 and 15 at the Los Angeles Shakespeare Center. 7:30 PM. Free!

“Shakespeare for Kids”  ~  The Children’s Shakespeare Festival at Two Elementary Schools Annalee Public School in Carson and 93rd Street Elementary School in Los Angeles. ~ SEE a documentary film about this program : “Shakespeare at Full S.T.E.A.M.”

Cast of Shakespeare classroom project at 93rd Street Elementary School - Fall 2014 Performance scheduled for January 16 at 1pm

Cast of Shakespeare classroom project at 93rd Street Elementary School


shakespeare day photo

Spring 2014 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream                    

In the Spring of 2014, in celebration of William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, The Inner City Shakespeare Ensemble in partnership with, LA County Parks and Recreation and the LAUSD presented a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream under the direction of Artistic Director Dr. Melanie Andrews. Our Shakespeare Family birthday celebration included free performances at Ladera, Monteith, Athens, Grand Parks as well as wonderful participation in a few BritWeek Events!


Twelfth Night

Gifted students from George Washington Prep High School & Los Angeles High School presented Twelfth Night.

Twelfth Night- Poster - LA High 2013

Our 2013 season culminated in a joint production with both schools at the FigAt7th Festival on July 27th, sponsored by Arts Brookfield.

7th and Fig production still




A Midsummer Night’s Dream

In 2012  A Midsummer Night’s Dream   was was Performed by the Students of George Washington Preparatory High School, Music and Performing Arts Magnet Ladera Heights Park June 9th and 10th.

 A Midsummer Night's Dream - poster
A Midsummer Night's Dream - pic









Romeo and Juliet

In 2011  Romeo and Juliet  was performed by the Students of George Washington Preparatory High School, Music and Performing Arts Magnet at Ladera Heights Park Amphitheater May 28th and 29th, 2011

Romeo and Juliet - Poster - May 28th and 29th, 2011



With the support and mentorship of BAFTA Los Angeles and its industry professionals membership, George Washington Prep School presented two performances of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.



The cast of Romeo and Juliet,  Curtis Smith, A’Donus Gillett and Kaylin Bilal and Dr. Melanie Andrews invited to attend special screening of  “The Tempest” and meet with Dame Helen Mirren and director Julie Taymor. June 16th 2011.

Romeo and Juliet cast, crew and mentors

Romeo and Juliet – cast, crew and mentors


Cast of Romeo and Juliet, Curtis Smith, A'Donus Gillett and Kaylin Bilal and Dr. Melanie Andrews invited to attend special screening of "The Tempest" and meet with Dame Helen Mirren and director Julie Taymor. June 16th 2011.








How You Can Help

Each year we continue to create new productions which has enabled us to engage even more students from the entire city.  We are seeking financial contributions as well as volunteers and mentors for our programs.  By supporting ICSE you can sustain this program to change young lives and breathe renewed life into Shakespeare’s legacy.

Make a Contribution



Inner City Shakespeare Ensemble is deeply grateful for all the generous support we receive! 



Inner City Shakespeare Ensemble featured on County of Los Angeles Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ website:



READ MORE AT http://ridley-thomas.lacounty.gov/index.php/inner-city-shakespeare/



mark-ridley-thomas-supports-shakespeare-in-the-parkREAD MORE AT:http://ridley-thomas.lacounty.gov/index.php/shakespeare-in-the-park/

The ICSE is proud to announce that it has broadened its horizons and  cast an incredible ensemble of talented youth from more than a dozen schools within the LAUSD.  The program continues its collaboration with industry professionals from around the world, mentoring  students with their understanding of Shakespeare as well as the actual performance process. These one-on-one relationships have enhanced academic motivation, personal development and created lifelong, enduring associations.


What Actors are Saying About Shakespeare

Chiwetel Ejiofor from “WHY SHAKESPEARE?” by Larry Bridges

Michael York from “WHY SHAKESPEARE?” by Larry Bridges