“King Lear” Now Extended Through May 17

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Following a sold-out run of The Importance of Being Earnest, Seattle Shakespeare Company announced today that it will extend its production of King Lear through May 17 with four additional performances at the Cornish Playhouse.

King Lear directed by Sheila Daniels opens on Friday, April 25. The production will have a total of 20 performances through Saturday, May 17. King Lear features a 16 member cast led by Dan Kremer in the title role.

“So many of our shows this season have been bursting at the seams,” said Managing Director John Bradshaw. “Both Much Ado About Nothing and Richard II far exceeded our expectations, and we had a wait list for every performance of our sold-out run of The Importance of Being Earnest. We are happy to add performances to King Lear to accommodate the demand and allow more people to see the fine work of Sheila and her cast.” This is the second time Seattle Shakespeare Company has produced King Lear in its 23 year history. The previous production was in 2004.

“We’ve been stretching ourselves in several ways this season,” said Artistic Director George Mount. “A co-production with Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, two run-outs of our shows for a week each of performances in Walla Walla, and now this extension of King Lear.  The enthusiasm and demand for Seattle Shakespeare Company’s work just seems to be growing each year.” Next season, Seattle Shakespeare Company expands to a five-play indoor season, in addition to its free summer Wooden O performances and two state-wide touring productions.

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First rehearsal for “King Lear”

Seattle Shakespeare Company completes its 2013-2014 indoor season this spring with Shakespeare’s tragedy of a family and country splintered by misrule and pride — King Lear directed by Sheila Daniels.

The ultimate family drama matched by intense political intrigue, King Lear traces an aging monarch’s descent into madness. Weary of his royal duties, King Lear elects to distribute his lands among his three daughters. But sweet falsities and hubris blind Lear to the true motives of those around him, scorching king and kingdom to ashes with consequences that unearth the worst and best in human nature.

King Lear is the first piece of theatre that I saw that changed me,” said Daniels at the first rehearsal for the production. “I remember seeing it in Ashland when I was 15.  It moved me to tears as a witness, and as a frightened, confused teenager it made me say ‘I want to do that. That’s what I want to do for a living. I want to make people feel like this’” Daniels related to the cast how Lear differs from Shakespeare’s other great tragedy, Hamlet, in that it gives so much depth to so many characters. Twelve of the characters in King Lear have extended developmental journeys in the play. She used the metaphor of a mirror cracking, saying that the play fractures into smaller and smaller pieces every few minutes on stage. “This play never stops, even up to the last moment. There are five lines, maybe at the end, where it feels like the earth has stopped shaking at the end.”

Daniels returns to Seattle Shakespeare Company having previously directed productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Electra, Much Ado About Nothing (Wooden O), and Pericles. Most recently she directed The Normal Heart for Strawberry Theatre Workshop.  She was on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts for 10 years and currently teaches at Lakeside’s Upper School.

This is production marks Dan Kremer’s second production of King Lear having previously played the title role with Utah Shakespeare Festival in 2007. Michael Winters, who recently played King Lear at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2013, will play the part of Gloucester. Linda K. Morris (Goneril), Debra Pralle (Regan), and Elinor Gunn (Cordelia) make their Seattle Shakespeare Company debuts.

2014-2015 Season Announced – Lead Us Into Temptation

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Artistic Director George Mount announced the company’s plans for 2014-2015 that include expanding to five plays for its indoor season, the return of directors Jon Kretzu and John Langs, and the mainstage directing debuts of Desdemona Chiang and Makaela Pollock.

“Many of the projects in this coming year have been in the works for several years,” said Mount. “It was really a matter of timing and getting the right pieces in place.  For the indoor season, the plays coalesce around the theme of ‘Lead Us Into Temptation’ since desire, both playful and sinister, are a factor in each show.”

The free, outdoor Wooden O shows for summer 2014 will be The Two Gentlemen of Verona directed by David Quicksall and Julius Caesar directed by Vanessa Miller.  “Both David and Vanessa are Wooden O veterans, and they know the demands it takes to create a great experience in the parks,” said Mount.  The Two Gentlemen of Verona will draw its setting from mid-century America while Julius Caesar will feature an all-female cast set in a contemporary world on the brink of war. The shows will start performances on July 10, 2014 and perform in parks at Mercer Island, Sammamish, Seattle, Lynnwood, Edmonds, SeaTac, Issaquah, Shoreline and other cities. All performances are free and open to the public with donations encouraged at the site.  After their run in Seattle, each show will transfer to Walla Walla for a week of performances.

Seattle Shakespeare Company expands its indoor programming next season by adding a fifth full production to its roster. Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot will be produced at the Falls Theatre at ACT Theatre September3-21, 2014. “Godot is a play I’ve wanted to direct for a long time, and I specifically wanted to direct it at ACT,” said Mount. “I’ve been working for almost three years with a group of artists to help realize this production, and I’m very excited that we can kick off our indoor season with this play that could arguably be the most influential play of the 20th century. And, we’ve got some very exciting city-wide partners and events related to Beckett in the works.”  Samuel Beckett introduced the world to Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot when much of humankind lived in fear of nuclear annihilation. Since then these two clowns, as well as their fellow travelers Pozzo and Lucky, have led the way in taking one falteringly dangerous step after another into an unknown future.

Shakespeare’s sparkling comedy Twelfth Night will be directed by Jon Kretzu October 21-November 16, 2014 at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center. “I’m so happy to welcome back Jon who showed us the charm and delight in Love’s Labour’s Lost in 2013,” said Mount.  “I know he’s interested in playing with both the twinkle of Twelfth Night as well as the darker tones of the play.”

Desdemona Chiang will direct Measure for Measure January 6-February 1, 2015 at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center. “Desdemona is an artist whose work really caught my attention, and I look forward to introducing her to our fans,” said Mount. “Measure for Measure is a play that raises hard questions and doesn’t provide any easy answers, and I’m counting on Desdemona to hold us to the fire for this one.”

Moliere’s Tartuffe will be directed by Makaela Pollock March 17-April 12, 2015 at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center. “Tartuffe is a crazy tale of a swindler who cons his way into a family’s household, and Moliere skewers false morality with great gusto,” said Mount. “I worked with Makaela for the 2012 Wooden O production of Twelfth Night, and I think her zany sensibilities will be spot on for the play.

Othello will be the final play in the company’s indoor season.  It will be directed by John Langs April 22-May 10, 2015 at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. “John doesn’t shy away from bringing a big vision of Shakespeare’s plays to the stage,” said Mount. “Time and time again he’s wowed our audiences, and I can’t wait see what he’ll bring to bear on Othello since it’s a firecracker of a play.”

Seattle Shakespeare Company will also tour two 6-actor Shakespeare productions to approximately 60 schools and communities across Washington State in the spring of 2015.

Season ticket packages are now on sale and range from $94 to $204 for all five indoor productions. Season ticket packages can be purchased by calling the ticket office at (206) 733-8222 or online at www.seattleshakespeare.org. Single tickets for all five productions will go on sale June 4, 2014 and range from $25-$48 per ticket.

Such Sweet Thunder on KPLU

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Seattle Shakespeare Company was part of a sensational concert in February with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra Such Sweet Thunder: The Duke Meets the Bard. If you missed the concert or just want to relive the experience, tune in Jim Wilke’s program Jazz Northwest on Sunday, March 9 at 2 PM to KPLU 88.5 FM to hear a broadcast of the first half of the concert. The second half will be broadcast at 2 PM on Sunday, March 16.

Actors George Mount, Darragh Kennan, and Hana Lass (who is appearing in our upcoming production of The Importance of Being Earnest) performed excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays alongside the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra wonderful rendition of Duke Ellington’s Shakespeare inspired songs. We’re thrilled Jim is able broadcast the entire concert in these two installments.

For more information, visit kplu.org.

First Rehearsal for “Earnest”

 

 

Only one other writer could compete with Shakespeare for the title of the most quoted playwright, and that is Oscar Wilde. Seattle Shakespeare Company produces their first production of a Wilde play with The Importance of Being Earnest directed by Victor Pappas this spring.

The Importance of Being Earnest is Oscar Wilde’s last play and has been hailed as one of the cleverest comedies in the English language. Dapper Jack Worthing and Algernon, his compatriot in cavorting, have fallen for two ladies who have their hearts set on marrying a man named Ernest. In order to pursue the romance, both men concoct an elaborate deception which leads to an even more outlandish surprise when the formidable Lady Bracknell starts sleuthing about for the far-fetched truth.

Wilde was a great admirer of the social commentary plays of Shaw and Ibsen. At the first rehearsal for the play, director Victor Pappas remarked that The Importance of Being Earnest was written after Wilde’s series of “Society Plays” where the characters all had great secrets they were trying to protect.  The play was a departure from his previous works in that Wilde set aside the earnest social commentary and focused on his humor and triviality he saw in his society.  “He calls the play a trivial play for serious people. It is indeed that,” said Pappas. “It says: `Look at the things we take seriously and look at the things we treat as trivial….I’m going to invert that, and that’s going to be a reflection of our society.’”  The Importance of Being Earnest was written during the period of Wilde’s life when he had his own secrets.  A happily married man with children, Wilde also conducted a whole other life with Lord Alfred Douglas.  The Importance of Being Earnest opened on Valentine’s Day in 1895 and shortly thereafter the great scandal of Wilde’s life became public. He was imprisoned, his named removed from the play, and Wilde never came back as a literary force within his lifetime.

Pappas makes his Seattle Shakespeare Company directing debut with The Importance of Being Earnest. He served as the Associate Artistic Director of Intiman Theatre for seven years and recently directed Other Desert Cities, Old Times and Mary Stuart at ACT Theatre. He spent a decade as Associate Chair of the Graduate Acting Program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he received the David Payne Carter Award for Teaching Excellence.

Husband and wife actors Connor Toms and Hana Lass will play Jack and Cecily. Both have appeared frequently at Seattle Shakespeare Company, Toms most recently as Duke Orsino in the Wooden O production of Twelfth Night (2012) and Lass as Rosalind in As You Like It (2012). Emily Grogan, who also appeared in the Wooden O production of Twelfth Night as Olivia returns to play Gwedonlen.  Making their Seattle Shakespeare Company debuts are Quinn Franzen as Algernon and Kimberly King as Lady Bracknell.  Also appearing in the production are Kate Wisniewski as Miss Prism, Charles Leggett as Rev. Chausible, and Michael Patten in the dual roles of Lane and Merriman.