All in the fam­ily

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By KATHIE RALEIGH

OUT LOUD pro­duc­tion of ‘King Lear’ is a fam­ily af­fair for di­rec­tor, lead ac­tor.

“King Lear” is a tale about a fa­ther and his daugh­ters. So what does that mean for a pro­duc­tion di­rected by a daugh­ter who cast her fa­ther in the ti­tle role?

It’s in­ter­est­ing, but un­like the play, the real-life as­pect is not tragic. In fact, it seems only to re­in­force the mu­tual ad­mi­ra­tion that ex­ists be­tween daugh­ter and dad.

The play is one of Shake­speare’s most fa­mous: the story of the Lear’s de­scent into mad­ness af­ter he di­vides his king­dom be­tween his daugh­ters, re­ward­ing the two who flat­ter him the most and ig­nor­ing the one who loves him but speaks more truth­fully. It ends trag­i­cally for all.

Not so for di­rec­tor Kira Hawkridge, found­ing artis­tic di­rec­tor of OUT LOUD Theatre, and her fa­ther, Alan F. Hawkridge, the ac­tor play­ing King Lear. They couldn’t be more en­thu­si­as­tic about their col­lab­o­ra­tion.

This isn’t the first time these Paw­tucket res­i­dents have worked to­gether. He’s di­rected her, she’s di­rected him, they’ve acted to­gether. He was her teacher when she was an un­der­grad­u­ate the­ater ma­jor at the Univer­sity of Rhode Is­land, where he is a lec­turer and pro­duc­tion man­ager.

Kira also has di­rected her mother, ac­tor-di­rec­tor Pa­tri­cia Hawkridge, who played Creon in Kira’s “gen­der fluid” pro­duc­tion of “Antigone” a while back. Pa­tri­cia cur­rently is di­rect­ing at Rhode Is­land Col­lege and teach­ing at Prov­i­dence Col­lege and the At­lantis Char­ter School, Fall River.

Long story short, di­rect­ing each other is noth­ing new for the fam­ily. What def­i­nitely is new, how­ever, is Kira’s take on Shake­speare’s clas­sic.

Her ap­proach is rooted in OUT LOUD’s phi­los­o­phy of move­ment-driven sto­ry­telling, and she al­ways be­gins re­hearsals with a prac­tice she calls “move­ment im­prov.”

“Dur­ing the first few weeks (of prepa­ra­tion), there’s no talk­ing, just move­ment,” Alan ex­plains. “It’s about find­ing the char­ac­ter be­fore the lines.” The process is akin to per­for­mance art.

Kira is al­ways think­ing about “bod­ies in space,” be they ac­tors on stage or, in the case of this pro­duc­tion, the au­di­ence.

“As Lear loses his tem­per, things start to spin out of con­trol,” Alan says. So does the au­di­ence, Kira adds. The au­di­ence is seated on mov­ing banks, and the space is al­ways re­con­fig­ur­ing around them.

If there’s con­fu­sion, that’s part of the plan as Kira tells the story from Lear’s per­spec­tive, so that “You feel the highs and lows of his char­ac­ter,” she ex­plains.

Her metaphor for the work­ings of Lear’s de­ranged mind is a cir­cus car­ni­val – a car­ni­val that de­volves into a freak show.

“This is not your typ­i­cal pro­duc­tion of ‘King Lear,’” Kira ac­knowl­edges, but stands be­hind an in­ven­tive ap­proach. “It’s im­por­tant to ex­plore the bound­aries of the clas­sics, to take pieces and put them un­der a mi­cro­scope to ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing new.”

“Shake­speare is the most pop­u­lar play­wright in the world,” Alan in­ter­jects. “There is a pro­duc­tion some­where all the time. Do all of these have to be pure?” Pro­duc­tions at Lon­don’s Globe The­ater are per­formed as they might have been in Shake­speare’s time, “and I love all that,” he says. “But we also can use Shake­speare as in­spi­ra­tion.”

That said, Kira leaves Shake­speare’s El­iz­a­bethan English di­a­logue in­tact, a choice that pre­serves a con­nec­tion with the orig­i­nal play as well as her love of the lan­guage.

As for get­ting along, Alan says sim­ply, “We re­spect one another’s work.

“That’s not to say there aren’t tense times,” he claims, and para­phrases ac­tor-di­rec­tor-pro­ducer Mike Ni­chols’ words that as the di­rec­tor, he’s an adult; as an ac­tor, he’s the child – an al­lu­sion to his and Kira’s po­si­tions on “King Lear.”

Kira, how­ever, dis­misses the claim, de­scrib­ing her fa­ther as “trust­ing of the process” and “al­ways will­ing to jump in.”

Alan presses on, say­ing that de­spite his train­ing at the Lon­don Academy of Mu­sic and Dra­matic Art (he’s Bri­tish born) and a roughly 40-year ca­reer in the the­ater, in­clud­ing as artis­tic di­rec­tor at the for­mer New­Gate Theatre, for a time he ex­pe­ri­enced stage fright.

“I was di­rect­ing all that time. It was my wife and daugh­ter who en­cour­aged me to come back. I’ve learned pro­found lessons work­ing with my daugh­ter.”

OUT LOUD Theatre’s pro­duc­tion of “King Lear” runs Nov. 10-Dec. 3, Fri­day, Satur­day and Sun­day evenings at 8, at the Mathew­son Street The­ater, 134 Mathew­son St., in down­town Prov­i­dence. Tick­ets are $20 gen­eral ad­mis­sion. A pay-what-you-can per­for­mance is of­fered on Mon­day, Nov. 20. The­ater go­ers also are in­vited to at­tend a free work­shop/talk back pre­sen­ta­tions on Nov. 17, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. For in­for­ma­tion, send email to box­of­fice­out­loudthe­[email protected]

Sub­mit­ted photo

Alan F. Hawkridge as King Lear

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.