Los Angeles's Antaeus Company to Present Double-Cast KING LEAR
The Antaeus Company, Los Angeles's classical theater ensemble, will open ClassicsFest 2010 with King Lear, its first full production of a Shakespeare play. Bart DeLorenzo will direct King Lear with renowned scholar, actor, and Antaeus founding artistic director Dakin Matthews and Broadway veteran/three-time Tony nominee Harry Groener heading two fully double-cast ensembles. Two gala openings, one with each cast, will take place on June 24 at 8 pm and June 25 at 4 pm, with performances continuing through August 8 at Antaeus' interim home, Deaf West Theatre in the NoHo Arts District. Low-priced previews will begin June 12.
King Lear is the politically resonant, timeless and searing story of an aging monarch, a kingdom divided and a family in turmoil. Lear's decision to divide his kingdom among his three daughters ignites a firestorm of greed and betrayal. Displaced as king and cast out as patriarch, Lear discovers the fragility of familial bonds as he descends into madness. Shakespeare's sublime poetry infuses this towering tragedy, a tale of family, duty, politics and mortality.
King Lear will mark the first full production of a Shakespeare play in The Antaeus Company's 19-year history.
"We chose Lear because it's a fantastic ensemble piece, and because we wanted to feature our founding artistic director, Dakin Matthews," explains artistic director Jeanie Hackett. "Dakin is one of the country's foremost interpreters of the Bard, and this is an opportunity to explore a Shakespearean play with the master. We double-cast all our productions, a technique that strengthens the way we collaborate and work together as an ensemble, so we're incredibly fortunate to have the equally superlative actor Harry Groener to share the title role."
Widely regarded as Shakespeare's greatest tragedy and arguably one of the greatest English-language plays ever written, King Lear explores domestic, spiritual and political themes in a primal world and an ambiguous time that could just as easily be hundreds of years ago or hundreds of years from now. Harold Bloom, writing in "The Invention of the Human," calls King Lear a play that shows "an apparent infinitude that perhaps transcends the limits of literature."
"Many productions are opening in the U.S. and around the world this year, and that's not a coincidence" notes DeLorenzo. "Everything is in flux: the economy, health care, the political power structure. When the world is changing, theaters do Lear."
In addition to Matthews and Groener, the ensemble will feature Allegra Fulton and Kirsten Potter as Goneril, Francia DiMase and Jen Dede as Regan, Rebecca Mozo and Tessa Thompson as Cordelia, Ramon De Ocampo and John Sloan as Edgar, Daniel Bess and Seamus Dever as Edmund, JD Cullum and Stephen Caffrey as the Fool, Robert Pine and Norman Snow as Gloucester, Morlan Higgins and Gregory Itzin as Kent, Kevin Daniels and Adrian LaTourelle as Cornwall, and John DeMita and Thomas Vincent Kelly as Albany. Rounding out the cast will be Adam Meyer, Brett Colbeth, Gabriel Diani, Jeff Doba, Drew Doyle, Jeff Gardner, Bruce Green, Jason Henning, John Francis O'Brien, Renata Plecha, Jeremy Shouldis and Paige Wilson.
A multiple award-winning director, DeLorenzo is working with Antaeus for the first time. "This is an opportunity to explore one of the world's great plays with a company of actors who can do the work justice," he says.
Adds Hackett, "Antaeus is unique because we do weeks, months, sometimes years of exploratory work on a single play before even beginning to rehearse. It's a very intensive and in-depth process, and perhaps one of the reasons that many of our productions are so successful."
Set Design for King Lear is by Tom Buderwitz, Lighting Design is by Lap Chi Chu, Costume Design is by A. Jeffrey Schoenberg, Sound Design is by John Zalewski, Prop Design is by Jen Prince, the Production Stage Manager is Deirdre Murphy, and Young Ji produces.
Bart DeLorenzo is founding Artistic Director of the Evidence Room in Los Angeles where he has directed many plays over the last 15 years including local and world premieres by Charles Mee, David Greenspan, Kelly Stuart, Philip K. Dick, Gordon Dahlquist, Martin Crimp, David Edgar, Naomi Wallace, and Edward Bond, as well as his own adaptation of Dickens' Hard Times, Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, and Schiller's Don Carlos, among many others. His recent freelance work includes the world premieres of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's Doctor Cerberus and Donald Margulies' Shipwrecked! An Entertainment at South Coast Repertory (later revived at the Geffen Playhouse); the world premiere of Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress at the Geffen; Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone at South Coast Rep; Racine's Britannicus at Cal Rep; and Around the World in 80 Days at the Cleveland Playhouse. Most recently, he directed Charles Mee's bobrauschenbergamerica for TheSpyAnts at [Inside] the Ford, Adam Bock's The Receptionist and Caryl Churchill's A Number at the Odyssey, and the world premieres of Justin Tanner's Voice Lessons at the Zephyr and Michael Sargent's The Projectionist at the Kirk Douglas. For his work, he has received five LA Weekly awards and three Back Stage Garlands.
The Antaeus Company, L.A.'s classical theater ensemble, has a 19-year history of providing quality classical theater in Los Angeles. Through productions, readings and workshops; through educational outreach to the community; and through acting training programs for young professionals, the Antaeus mission remains steadfast and simple: to keep classical theater vibrantly alive in ourselves and in our community. Members of the company and its board span a wide range of age, ethnicity and experience; they have performed on Broadway, at major regional theaters across the country, in film and television, and on local stages, and are the recipients of multiple accolades including Tony, Los Angeles and New York Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, LA Weekly, and Back Stage Garland nominations and awards.
King Lear will be the centerpiece of The Antaeus Company's 5th biennial ClassicsFest. Beginning July 6 and continuing for six weeks through August 15, ClassicsFest will offer an invigorating "summer splash" of actor-initiated workshops, readings, and special events on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons, including Peace In Our Time by Noël Coward; Les Femmes Savantes by Molière; Puntila and Matti by Bertolt Brecht; The Helen Fragments by Euripides and others; Les Blancs by Lorraine Hansberry; Arcadia by Tom Stoppard; The Malcontent by John Marston; Juno and the Paycock by Sean O'Casey; The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare; Faith Healer by Brian Friel; and The Capulets and Montagues by Lope De Vega. The Festival will features over 100 actors, and all readings and workshops will have a $10 ticket price.
King Lear will have two openings, each with a different cast, on June 24 at 8 pm and June 25 at 4 pm. Performances will continue through August 8 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm. There will be one Thursday performance on July 1 at 8 pm, and no 7:30 pm performance on Sunday, July 4. Previews will take place Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 pm, June 12 through June 25. Tickets will range from $30.00 - $34.00 except Opening Nights which will be $75.00 and previews which will be $20.00. The Antaeus Company's interim home is located in Deaf West Theatre, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601 (in the NoHo Arts District). For reservations and information, call (818) 506-1983 or visit online at www.Antaeus.org.
Photo credit: Tom Hackett