24th STreet Theatre Presents NEARLY LEAR, 10/19-21

A tragedy of the ages-for all ages! Acclaimed actor/clown Susanna Hamnett stars in an award-winning, mischievous, family friendly adaptation of Shakespeare's usually grim King Lear that is a one-woman tour-de-force. 24th STreet Theatre presents the Los Angeles premiere of Canada's international touring production of Nearly Lear for a limited, four performance-only engagement October 19-21.

Created by Hamnett with director Edith Tankus, Nearly Lear braves the most savage storm in English literature with breathtaking hilarity and heartache, honoring Shakespeare's beautiful language while taking a bit of poetic license. Welcome to a Lear that is profoundly accessible and fun, while serving the spirit, language and emotional core of the play.

"This production is the 'poster child' for what we're trying to do here at 24th STreet Theatre," explains executive director Jay McAdams. "It's in-your-face, gritty, you'll laugh and you'll cry theater that will be appreciated as much by kids as by their parents. In fact, it's so hip and cool that adults without kids won't want to miss it either."

24th STreet Theatre's ambitious 15th Anniversary Season aims to "reinvent" theater for young audiences in L.A., offering sophisticated, provocative productions that parents might not recognize as typical family fare, but which can be shared and enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

Nearly Lear is an emotional roller-coaster ride that upends expectations of what a Shakespeare play "should" be, using exuberant storytelling, music and film in addition to Shakespeare's rich poetic text to take its audience firmly into the heart of this great story. Writing in The New York Times, Charles Isherwood called it "A frisky, funny, vaudevillian…tantalizing introduction to the lifelong pleasures of seeing and reading Shakespeare… doesn't add any sugar to Shakespeare's sanguinary story, letting the corpses fall where they may."

The production received its first public performance at the Winchester Street Theatre in Toronto, and has since toured to critical and audience acclaim throughout Canada, the U.S. and the UK, including a run on Broadway. It is the recipient of the 2012 International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) Victor Award for Outstanding Production.

Nearly Lear is adapted from Shakespeare by Susanna Hamnett and Edith Tankus, with initial research and development in association with Emma Rice and Mike Shepherd of Kneehigh Theatre, England. Lighting design is by Michelle Ramsay; set design is by Lindsay Anne Black; sound design is by Gavin Fearon; and film is by David Parker. 24th STreet Theatre, Debbie Devine artistic director and Jay McAdams executive director, presents.

Susanna Hamnett has worked throughout England and Europe with Red Shift, Orchard Theatre, Theater Alibi (in association with Theater Gardiniesze), Anatoly Vassliev (National Theatre Studio), Target Theatre (ICA, London), Yoshi Oida, and Emma Rice and Mike Shepherd of Kneehigh Theatre among others. Moving to Toronto, she trained and collaborated with master clowns John Turner and Michael Kennard of "Mump and Smoot," and worked with Theatre Smith-Gilmour and Theatre Columbus to deepen her exploration of the application of clown in theater. She has become known for a unique theatrical voice that brings together various and disparate passions and disciplines: Shakespeare, clown, storytelling, vaudeville, the serious and the mischievous. She is currently developing a new solo performance from a script commissioned by the Kennedy Center's Theatre for Young Audiences department.

Winner of the 2012 TCG Peter Zeisler Award for risk taking and innovation in the American theater, 24th STreet Theatre is known for being a leader in arts education and community outreach as well as for presenting quality professional theater for young and old alike. Using art as a tool to positively impact the world around them, 24th Street's programming includes free after school enrichment programs, Teatro Nuevo Latino Initiative projects, a music series, outreach programs for at-risk teens, free community events, professional development programs for teachers, arts-ed school workshops, gallery exhibits and international touring in addition to critically acclaimed season productions geared for both adult and family audiences.

Four performances of Nearly Lear take place Friday, Oct. 19 @ 7:30 pm; Saturday, Oct. 20 @ 2 pm & 7:30 pm; and Sunday, Oct. 21 @ 2 pm. Tickets are $15 for adults; $10 for kids under 16; $12 for students, seniors and teachers; and 24 cents for residents of the theater's surrounding North University Park neighborhood. 24th STreet Theatre is located at 1117 West 24th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007 (at the intersection of 24th and Hoover). Secure parking is available for $5 in the lot on the southeast corner of 24th and Hoover, and street parking is also available. The theater is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. For reservations and information, call (213) 745-6516 or go to www.24thstreet.org. Nearly Lear is rated PG – ages 7+.

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