Buy Tickets From the 2009-2010 Season: King Lear March 2010 Playing March 04, 2010 to April 04, 2010

A Suzi Recommended Show!

The ties that bind in King Lear are woven of deceit, greed, grief and joyfulness. Often regarded as Shakespeare's crowning achievement, this tragedy about the relationship between parents and their offspring shows us how quickly we can become blinded by fear and killed with love.



Watch a brief interview here with Daniel Parvis and Matt Nitchie, who play brothers in King Lear.

Watch a brief interview with Jeff Watkins here

Join the cast and crew members for a Question and Answer session on Sunday March 14 after the show!


Read the Plot Synopsis

King Lear, the aging ruler of Britain, announces that he will divide his kingdom into three parts based on which of his three daughters loves him most.  Goneril, the oldest daughter, publicly falls over herself to flatter her father; Reagan, next in line, outdoes her sister in flattery.  The pleased King divides his kingdom into three equal parts, offering the best to his youngest, favorite and still unmarried daughter, Cordelia.  Cordelia refuses to play along, telling her father that she loves him as a daughter should but feels a duty to save some love for her husband.  Her answer infuriates Lear, who disinherits her on the spot—luckily for her, the King of France is willing to marry her even without a dower.

Lear also banishes Kent, one of his most loyal courtiers, for defending Cordelia.  The King divides his kingdom between Goneril and Reagan, intending to live alternately between their households for the remainder of his life. Meanwhile, Edmund, the bastard son of the Earl of Gloucester, resolves to fight against his illegitimacy by winning the inheritance of his older (and legitimate) brother, Edgar.  He creates distrust between Edgar and their father that results in Edgar fleeing for his life.

Rather than leave for exile, Kent disguises himself in order to keep serving Lear.  Lear, his Fool and his retinue of 100 knights (and Kent) arrive to stay with Goneril, who treats them scornfully.  Infuriated by her treatment, Lear travels to stay instead with Reagan.  Goneril writes quickly to her sister, encouraging her to treat their father in the same manner.  When Kent intercepts this letter and challenges the messenger, Cornwall (Reagan’s husband) throws him into the stocks (a degrading punishment.) Reagan and Cornwal have traveled to Gloucester’s castle just to get out of hosting Lear, but the King meets them there.  He becomes enraged upon seeing Kent so degraded, and rails upon his treatment from Goneril. Goneril herself then arrives to support Reagan, and they gang up on the old King, eventually turning him out of the castle without shelter from a threatening storm.

In the meantime, still thinking that his father seeks to kill him, Edgar has disguised himself as a peasant named ‘Poor Tom.’ He runs into the half-mad King out on the stormy heath.  Risking the wrath of Goneril and Reagan, Gloucester arranges shelter in Dover for the now-feverish King and his ragtag companions.  When Corwall finds out, he savagely blinds Gloucester as punishment.  Reagan throws the blinded Gloucester out of the castle; ‘Poor Tom’ finds him and leads him toward Dover.  Cordelia’s husband is leading an army from France to fight with Goneril and Reagan’s powers, and she is reunited with her father at Dover.  While in Dover Edgar happens upon crucial evidence of his illegitimate brother’s treachery: Edmund has seduced both Goneril and Reagan, and plans to kill Goneril’s husband.

The English army wins the battle and takes both Lear and Cordelia prisoner.  Edgar appears as an anonymous ‘white knight’ and challenges Edmund in combat; Edmund loses and confesses his sins before dying.  Reagan has poisoned Goneril, only to commit suicide when her infidelity and treason are exposed.  It’s also too late for Cordelia: she has already been hung by secret command from Edmund.  After carrying her body into the courtyard, Lear dies of grief. 




(By Kristin Hall, Education Development Coordinator)

Director's Notes

Directed by Tony Brown

Show Information

Duration

Act I = 80 Act 2 = 58 Act 3 = 28

Show Roles

King Lear - Jeffrey Watkins
Cordelia - Mary Ruth Ralston
Goneril - Erin Considine
Regan - Laura Cole
King of France - Matt Felten
Duke ofAlbany - Drew Reeves*
Duke of Burgundy - Dan Brown
Duke of Cornwall - Mike Niedzwiecki
Earl of Kent - Troy Willis*
Earl of Gloucester - Doug Kaye*
Edgar, Gloucester’s Son - Daniel Parvis
Edmund, bastard son to Gloucester - Matt Nitchie
Curran - Dan Brown
Old Man, tenant to Gloucester - Clarke Weigle
Lear’s Fool - Mary Ruth Ralston
Oswald - Matt Felten
English Captain - Mike Niedzwiecki
English Soldiers - Matt Felten, Brian Mayberry
French Soldiers - Dan Brown, Jeffrey Stephenson, Sevawn Foster, Katie Wine
English Gentleman - Clarke Weigle
French Gentleman - Brian Mayberry
English Herald - Sevawn Foster
Burgundy’s Attendant - Clarke Weigle
France’s Attendant - Jeffrey Stephenson
Knights - Mike Niedzwiecki, Clarke Weigle, Dan Brown, Jeffrey Stephenson, Brian Mayberry, Doug Kaye*
Ladies - Katie Wine, Sevawn Foster
Servants - Katie Wine, Sevawn Foster, Jeffrey Stephenson, Drew Reeves*, Brian Mayberry, Clarke Weigle
Messenger - Sevawn Foster

Show Times
Shows at the New American Shakespeare Tavern begin at 7:30pm, except on Sundays, when they begin at 6:30pm

Bardometer Rating

How difficult is this Shakespearean play to grasp? On a scale of 1 to 10.
7
 
What does rating this mean?

These are plays you may have read in high school or college. The plot is fairly uncomplicated, though some of the themes may be dense or dark. These plays may include supernatural elements, straight-forward politics, historical content or religious content. (In these cases, we offer a synopsis with important historical or contextual explanations which you may read in the Playbill before the show.) In these plays, there may also be bawdy language and certain adult situations, and the language may be hard to follow for a first-timer.

We recommend this type of play to High School and College Students, casual theatre-goers, people who like mainstream films and reading “The Onion”, and Shakespeare lovers who enjoy delving into the Elizabethan world.

How to prepare for seeing this kind of play: You may wish to read the synopsis we provide (and maybe your notes from Literature Class). Or simply do a small amount of internet research. No worries – you won’t get lost.

Additional Information