Seattle Shakespeare Kicks Off New Year with RICHARD II, Now thru 2/2

With recent airings on PBS via the BBC's "Hollow Crown" series and a screening of the RSC production with David Tenant, the Puget Sound region has seen a mini-renaissance of Shakespeare's Richard II. Seattle Shakespeare Company starts the New Year with its own production of Richard II directed by Rosa Joshi. Artistic Director George Mount will play the title role in a cast that features 16 actors.

Tickets to Richard II are available now through the Seattle Shakespeare Company Box Office at 206-733-8222 as well as online at www.seattleshakespeare.org.

Richard II is Shakespeare's lyrical beginning to the fight for the English throne known as the War of the Roses. Ordained by God, King Richard succeeded to the throne at a very young age and has known nothing else other than his role as leader and monarch. Richard's antics and arrogance try the patience of the great houses of England and threaten to set them into civil war. When Richard goes too far and seizes lands and wealth from his deceased uncle, his cunning and capable cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, topples Richard from the throne. Stripped of his crown and identity, Richard makes an unexpected revelation far more valuable than any kingdom.

At the first rehearsal for the play, director Rosa Joshi remarked how power plays, plotting, and search for identity in Richard II resonate in our post-millennial world. "He loses everything and is left at the end to confront who he is and why he exists," said Joshi. "That to me seems very contemporary and something we can all identify with. What is it to give up everything that defines who you are? When you're left with just yourself...what the heck is that? Who are you and what's your purpose?" She remarked that everyone in the play is concerned with identity in some way and that choices shift constantly between personal motivations and political motivations. "I think it's really important to remember that the play is about a family, and how people negotiate loyalty to their family and loyalty to the state," said Joshi. "Sometimes we forget that everyone is related. This is one really large dysfunctional, somewhat inbred family."

Joshi makes her Seattle Shakespeare Company directing debut with Richard II. Currently on the faculty at Seattle University, she has also directed at Cornish College for the Arts and taught at Hong Kong University and Hong Kong Academy of the Performing Arts. She is proud to be a co-founder of upstart crow, a Seattle-based theatre collective dedicated to producing classical plays with all-female casts.

Artistic Director George Mount will play King Richard and David Foubert, who makes his Seattle Shakespeare Company debut, will play his cousin Henry Bolingbroke. They are joined by Dan Kremer as John of Gaunt, Peter Jacobs as the Duke of York, Brenda Joyner as the Queen, Kate Wisniewski as the Duchess of York, and Reginald Andre Jackson as the Earl of Northumberland. Kremer will play the title role in the company's upcoming production of King Lear. Jacobs and Joyner join the company again after complete their run as Leonato and Hero in this past fall's Much Ado About Nothing. Wisniewski makes her mainstage debut and will return to play Miss Prism in the spring production of The Importance of Being Earnest. Jackson marks his 15th production with the company having first appeared with SSC in Othello in 1992.

Seattle Shakespeare Company presents Richard II, running today, January 8-February 2 (Previews January 8 & 9, Opening Night Friday January 10). Performance times: Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 PM with selected Saturdays at 2PM and selected Sundays at 2PM and 7:30PM.

All performances run at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center, 305 Harrison Street, Seattle WA 98109. Tickets to Richard II are now on sale and range from $25-$48 for adults and $25-$33 for seniors and students. A Pay-What-You-Will preview is on January 7 at 7:30 PM. Discount tickets are available for groups of ten or more. For ticket, call the Seattle Shakespeare Company box office (206) 733-8222 or go online at www.seattleshakespeare.org.

DESIGN TEAM:

Rosa Joshi....................................................... Director




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