FOUNDER, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
THE SHAKESPEARE CENTER OF LOS ANGELES
1985 – to present
Ben Donenberg is the Founder and Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles (SCLA). As a producer, director, and writer of populist interpretations of Shakespeare, Ben has built a reputation of creating and presenting excellent, accessible film and theatrical productions scored and performed by the world’s finest actors and recording artists.
He served as the Shakespeare Unit Producer for Penny Marshall’s feature film Renaissance Man starring Danny DeVito. His production of Henry IV starred Tom Hanks in an award-winning performance that generated $1.6 million in box office receipts in three weeks. His production of Much Ado About Nothing at Center Theatre Group starred Helen Hunt and featured Lyle Lovett in the role of the musician Balthasar supported by progressive bluegrass singers and songwriters Sean and Sara Watkins. It received special Ovation award for its musical accomplishment from the LA Stage Alliance.
Other productions he’s directed and produced have included Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Alanis Morrissette, Jackson Browne, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Reba McIntyre, Natalie Cole, Anthon Hopkins, Al Pacino, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hanks, Tessa Thompson, Anthony Mackie, Angela Bassett, Courtney Vance, Joe Morton, William Shatner, Tracey Ullman, Geoffrey Rush, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett, Eugene Levy, Katherine O’Hara, Christina Applegate, Rita Wilson, Keith David, Martin Short.
Ben directed a Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Fall Gala at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, conducted by Esa Peka Salonen, that featured Mendelssohn’s Incidental Music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and was supported by voices from the Los Angeles Opera and Los Angeles Master Chorale with text performed by Alfre Woodard, David Ogden Stiers, and Peter MacNichols.
Ben’s original play Starship Shakespeare ran for two years in Los Angeles and San Francisco and was dubbed a “cult classic” by the Los Angeles Times. He has received local awards and national recognition from Actors’ Equity Association, NAACP, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, California Educational Theatre Association, and the Mayor of Los Angeles. As a Presidentially appointed and U.S. Senate approved Member of the National Council on the Arts he approved more than $700 million in federal arts grants and nominated more than 60 awardees of the Presidential National Medal of Arts. Ben was selected by the U.S. Secretary of Defense to participate in the U.S. Department of Defense Joint Civilian Orientation Conference and trained very briefly with all five branches of the US military. He has lectured on theatre aesthetics at University of Southern California, and at the Huntington Library and SCLA’s award-winning Will Power teacher training seminars. Ben received his Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from University of Southern California and is a graduate of The Juilliard School’s Drama Division.