Theater & Dance
"The Hood of Sherwood"

By: Doug Brook
Produced by: Silicon Valley Shakespeare
Directed by: Caroline Clark
Fight choreography by: Larry Barrott
Featuring: Myles Rowland, James Lucas, Todd Wright, Drew B. Jones, Shawn Andrei, Sara Luna, Sarah Thermond, Kristin Hall, Ron Talbot, Filip Hofman, Melissa Weinstein, Derek Sikkema, Bianca Marconcini
When: July 27 through August 31, 2018
Where: Sanborn County Park, 16055 Sanborn Road, Saratoga
Tickets: $20-$25; free for those 17 and younger; visit
"Much Ado About Nothing"

By: William Shakespeare
Produced by: Silicon Valley Shakespeare
Directed by: Angie Higgins
Dance choreography by: Sonya Duffin
Fight choreography by: Larry Barrott
Vocal direction by: Sarah Glossop
Featuring: Jeff Kramer, Doll Piccoto, Jeremy Howard, Marjorie Hazeltine, Ross Harkness, Josie Lawson, John Rutski, Bryan Freeman, Anne Kobori, Shawn Andrei, Dana Morgan, Ambera De Lash, Tom Gough, Regina Kohl, Erik Browne, Erin Southard, David Randolph Evans, Bianca Marconcini
When: August 3 through September 2, 2018
Where: Sanborn County Park, 16055 Sanborn Road, Saratoga
Tickets: $20-$25; free for those 17 and younger; visit

Talbot, Hofman, Rowland, Luna, Thermond, Wright
Evelyn Huynh / Silicon Valley Shakespeare
An archery contest in "The Hood of Sherwood," playing July 27 through August 31, 2018, for Silicon Valley Shakespeare in Sanborn Skyline County Park in Saratoga. From left are Ron Talbot as the Sheriff of Nottingham, Filip Hofman as Guy of Gisborne, Myles Rowland as Robin Hood, Sara Luna as Marian, Sarah Thermond as Prioress of Kirklees and Todd Wright as Friar Tuck.
Robbing from the past
to give to the present
Playwright Doug Brook winnowed through folktales
and old songs to write 'The Hood of Sherwood'
July 31, 2018

When the opportunity arose for Doug Brook to write a play about a famous outlaw of 12th Century Nottingham, he was briefly stymied.

"I wanted to do the definitive Robin Hood," Brook said during a recent phone interview, "and found there wasn't one."

He did a "fair amount of research," he said, "hunting around on the internet — rather than the library — and found scattered stories, lyrics captured by scholars. The stories come mostly from the 1500s and the 1600s, and are different than what we see today. There are a lot of contradictions in the different stories."

But the first time Brook had seen a Silicon Valley Shakespeare production at Sanborn County Park in Saratoga, he'd thought it was a great venue for a story about Robin Hood. Even so, when SVS Artistic Director Angie Higgins suggested to Brook that he write a play about Robin Hood for the troupe's 20th season, he said no.

At first.

Doug Brook
Doug Brook

When he finally agreed, it was on "One condition: I will not direct, will not be in it," he said. "I wanted to focus on just being the writer .... I like it when I'm the fly on the wall, seeing what people get from the page — what people draw from the page is what matters. I like to have more voices involved in the creativity."

Brook, who is executive director of SVS, ended up writing "The Hood of Sherwood," the 20th of his plays that have been produced, which premiered on Friday during the 20th season of SVS.

Brook wrote the play very much in a modern vernacular — none of the Middle English possibly spoken by an English thief in the 1100s — and not even any of the often fake British of many of the TV shows and movies.

It makes for an easily absorbable and entertaining play, with some of the classic tales of Robin Hood — the battle of John Little and Robin on the bridge, archery contests and sword fights — but plenty of other material gleaned from legend that is less familiar.

And, "I would have liked to add more material, but that would have been a five-hour play."

Brook did get to add more women characters, which he wanted, including at least one most of us have heard of, Marian, but also the lesser seen Prioriess of the Nunnery of Kirklees, who is Robin's cousin; Ellen, wife of Alan-a-Dale, the minstrel who narrates; and Earine, a member of Robin's band, whom Brook made up whole cloth.

People will be surprised by some of what goes on in the play, Brook said.

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Brook joined the SVS staff three years ago, although he'd been a fan before that. He's happy with where the theater company is these days.

"We've built out the infrastructure, added our first fulltime staff member last year, and have a lot of mechanisms in place to support what we do," he said. "Every improvement allows us to focus on the art."

In his day job, Brook is a senior manager in tech writing for a Mountain View-based cyber security company.

He said he learned about writing at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, where he studied writing and theater.

"I sort of fell backward into tech writing," he said. "I started doing web stuff, before the internet was just taking off. I fell into it once I finished my masters." He said he enjoys his day job, and explains that it helps power his writing for theater.

The tech work, he said, is all objective; the theater writing is subjective.

Brook is also very active in the Bay Area Jewish community. He teaches, occasionally is a last-minute fill-in to sermonize.

"I'm plugged in where I can help people," he said. He is working on a master's degree in Jewish education.

"The funny thing is," he said. "I find those three realms all interconnect — theater, tech writing, teaching — they are all about conveying something to an audience."

"The Hood of Sherwood," directed by Caroline Clark, and which is already playing, will be joined in repertory on Friday, August 3, by Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing," directed by Angie Higgins.

"It's one of our most popular plays," Brook said. "This time we are doing it in 1920s style. We're trying to work the number 20 into everything we do. It's our 20th year ... Sherwood is the 20th play I've had staged.

"'Much Ado' is going to be a pull-out-the-stops production," Brook said, noting that new music has been composed for it, with lyrics by Doll Piccoto, who plays Beatrice in the show.

Casts for both plays are excellent, populated largely by performers who have been outstanding on many Bay Area stages.

Email John Orr at

Piccotto, Kramer
Evelyn Huynh / Silicon Valley Shakespeare
Doll Piccotto as Beatrice, left, and Jeff Kramer as Benedick in "Much Ado About Nothing," staged August 3 through September 2, 2018, by Silicon Valley Shakespeare in Sanborn Skyline County Park in Saratoga, California.