The family that preys together… take a look at rehearsals for our Wooden O production of King Lear. Performances start in the park on July 12.
Family betrayal, sibling rivalry, greed, insanity, bloody violent acts, and estate planning. What’s not to like about King Lear? If this is your first go around with Shakespeare’s famous and popular tragedy or if you just want a brush up to know your Kents from your Cornwalls then we’re here to help out.
Get me rewrite…stat!Early published versions of King Lear (First Quarto, Second Quarto, First Folio, and Second Folio) vary widely. Nearly 300 lines differ between the texts printed between 1608 and 1632. Does it matter? Sure it does! In some cases the last lines of the play were given to different characters. Most modern texts of the play combine the versions, but having options for performance can make things interesting.
Origin StoryIn Elizabethan England there was a fairly famous Celtic tale of an ancient King Leir of Britain who had three daughters. Shakespeare likely elaborated on the already established stories of the king, but embellished heavily by adding the Fool, peppering it with violence and madness, and giving his version a tragic ending.
Players Gotta PlayRobert Armin was the resident comedian in Shakespeare’s troupe. He inaugurated the roles of Feste, Touchstone, and Lavatch. It’s believed that Shakespeare created the part of Lear’s fool specifically for Armin, since the source material for King Lear doesn’t mention a fool.
Happily Ever After??In 1642 Poet Laureate Nahum Tate rewrote several of Shakespeare’s plays…and gave them happy endings! In his version of King Lear Cordelia marries Edgar and cares for her father until his death. And he eliminated the Fool! Tate’s version was so popular that it continued to be performed for over 200 years until Shakespeare original was restored and revived by actor Charles McCready.
Animal NatureWith Goneril and Regan often compared to deadly and vicious creatures King Lear contains more references to animals and the natural world than any other Shakespeare play.
Banned!From 1810 to 1820 during the reign of George III, all productions of King Lear were banned from the stage. The monarch suffered bouts of insanity and they didn’t want the public to see the parallel between Shakespeare’s mad king and Britain’s ruler.
We Are Family…I Got All My Sisters and MeWhile it can be viewed as a political drama about rights and lands and leadership, King Lear is a family story with nearly all the main characters related by blood or through marriage. Even the subplot of Lear’s friend Gloucester revolves around family relationships.
Shaw Loved It. Tolstoy Hated ItIn his preface to Three Plays for Puritans, George Bernard Shaw said of King Lear that “No man will ever write a better tragedy than Lear.” Leo Tolstoy, author of War and Peace, begged to differ. In his 100 page essay on Shakespeare the Russian author said King Lear had an “exaggerated” plot with “pompous, characterless language.”
Best Acting Advice Ever!When asked if he had any tips on playing the role of Lear, actor Donald Wolfit is credited with saying, “Get a Cordelia you can carry and keep an eye on the Fool.”
Missing PersonSo, just what happened to Queen Lear? Where is she? Why isn’t she mentioned? The practical reason is that fewer women’s roles were written because women weren’t allowed to act on stage. The female roles written were often played by younger actors and there were only a few boy actors in a company at a time.
Seattle Shakespeare Company celebrates the 25th anniversary of Wooden O this summer with productions of King Lear and The Merry Wives of Windsor which start performances on Thursday, July 12. Both productions will perform in park venues throughout King and Pierce Counties.
It’s the 25th Anniversary of Wooden O and we’re thrilled for our summer park productions of King Lear and The Merry Wives of Windsor. So pick a park and start planning your picnics, because on July 12 we launch our free summer Shakespeare. Seattle Shakespeare Company’s Artistic Director George Mount will direct King Lear featuring David Pichette in the title role. Pichette has appeared the past two summers with Wooden O in Love’s Labours Lost and Pericles. A regular on Seattle stages, it will be a real treat to see Pichette and company take on our first outdoor production of this epic drama. To counter the dark drama, director Corey McDaniel will stage Shakespeare’s suburban comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor. Taking inspiration from London in the swinging ‘60s, the production features Charles Leggett as John Falstaff, and Annie Lareau and Eleanor Moseley as Mistress Ford and Mistress Page who turn the tables on the rascally old scammer.
The full cast for King Lear includes Nabilah S. Ahmed (Cordelia), Mike Dooly (Albany), Jennifer Ewing (Oswald), Meme Garcia (Fool), Anais Gralpois (Ensemble), Ivan Guillermo (Burgundy), Jonelle (Jordan (Reagan), Jason Marr (Cornwall), Vanessa Miller (Goneril), Conner Neddersen (Edgar), Adrian Padilla (France), Arjun Pande (Edmund), David Pichette (King Lear), Alyson Scadron-Branner (Kent), R. Hamilton Wright (Gloucester).
The Merry Wives of Windsor full cast includes Megan Ahiers (Host of the Garter Inn), Vince Brady (Master Page), Anuhea Brown (Nym/ensemble), Susanna Burney (Shallow), Marianna deFazio (Evan Hughs), Brandon Felker (Dr. Caius), Reginald Andre Jackson (Master Ford), Annie Lareau (Mistress Ford), Charles Leggett (Falstaff), Lamar Lewis (Slender), Imogen Love (Mistress Quickly), Sienna Mendez (Pistol/ensembles), Eleanor Moseley (Mistress Page), Stephanie Neuerburg (Anne Page), Chad Sommerville (Fenton), Mariah Lee Squires (Simple/Robin/ensemble).
This summer Seattle Shakespeare Company will celebrate 25 years of bringing free Shakespeare to our region’s parks with productions of King Lear and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Both shows will start performances on July 12 and will perform in 12 different park venues through August 12. “The summer Wooden O shows started with some friends and a dream to bring free Shakespeare to our community,” said Artistic Director George Mount who founded Wooden O. “We knew at the time it was ambitious, and we weren’t sure how it would go, or how far we could take it. To last for 25 years, to perform in so many cities, and become such a beloved summer tradition for so many people is an accomplishment that still takes my breath away. It’s a humbling moment and a testament to the artists who bring these works to life and to the audiences who continue to find value and enjoyment in what we do.” Mount will direct King Lear which will feature local actor David Pichette in the title role. It is the company’s first outdoor production of King Lear. Corey McDaniel, the artistic director of Theatre22 will stage The Merry Wives of Windor set in the swinging 1960s of London. Tickets to Wooden O performances are free and open to the public, but donations are encouraged after the show.