First rehearsal for “King Lear”

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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.