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Long Beach Shakespeare Company

"Inspirational" Artistic Director Borgers Dies

Long Beach Shakespeare Company logoHelen Borgers, artistic director of the Long Beach Shakespeare Company in California and a jazz legend in the community, died Sunday, November 12, after a nine-week hospitalization due to "deteriorating health issues," reported the Long Beach Post. She was 60.

Her family announced her death in a Sunday posting on Facebook. "Helen, the woman who inspired and enriched the lives of thousands of people in art, literature, music, theater, and so much more, who followed her passion in spite of what anyone thought, took her last breath today, at high noon, after a long, brave fight with the many health issues she faced," the family statement said.

Borger's inspiring ways included her 20-year tenure at the Long Beach Shakespeare Company. "Helen was a strong believer in education," said a company statement. "She has used her talents since 1997 at the Long Beach Shakespeare Company to fulfill the company's mission, to promote literacy by entertaining and inspiring our audiences with the power of the classics."

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Borgers moved to Long Beach in 1958. She majored in dramatic literature and history at California State Long Beach and taught drama and Shakespeare workshops at high schools through the 1970s and again around the turn of this century after she became Long Beach Shakespeare Company's artistic director. With the company, she has directed and performed in a diverse repertoire ranging from Euripides through Tennessee Williams to Steve Allen, as well as William Shakespeare plays. In 2007, the Long Beach Arts Council presented Borgers with its Distinguished Arts Professional Award.

Borgers oversaw a company that "presents traditionally designed productions of stage, literary, and radio classics, with visually compelling sets and costumes, live music and sound effects, and strong acting," according to the company statement. In addition to full-scale productions of Shakespeare plays, Long Beach Shakespeare Company produces live dramatic radio broadcasts throughout its annual season.

Borgers was a presence on Long Beach radio in her own right. For 39 years through this past June she was "the voice of jazz" on 88.1 FM, formerly broadcast from Cal State Long Beach. In 2006, the Los Angeles Jazz Society honored her as Jazz Communicator of the Year.

"Helen was also a big believer in the phrase 'The show must go on,'" Long Beach Shakespeare Company's statement said. "We will continue with the productions that Helen hand picked for this year and 2018. We all hope that our patrons will continue to come see our productions and fill our theater with love, laughter, and applause."

November 17, 2017

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