For its 11th season of bringing free William Shakespeare plays to Steel City urban parks, Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks presents an eight-actor King Lear on weekends in September at three different parks: Frick, Schenley, and Arsenal Parks.
Directed by Jeffrey Chips (who performed in The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet with PSIP), King Lear features local favorite Ron Siebert in the title role and PSIP Artistic Director Jennifer Tober in the roles of Edmund and Oswald.
King Lear's cast is comprised of four women and four men who not only will play all 20 characters but also will be present onstage throughout the show, creating the mise en scène with their bodies and voices.
“We are very excited that Ron Siebert is playing King Lear; we have been planning this show around Ron for several years,” Tober said in a playbill on the company's website. Siebert is currently appearing at Latrobe's St. Vincent Theatre in Tuesdays with Morrie and has appeared at dozens of regional theaters across the country, on TV, on film, and on Broadway.
Director Chips has embraced the PISP aesthetic, eliminating all sets, lights, sound, and special effects and focusing on the actor and the audience. “I love the idea of the ‘yin/yang’ aspect of the play, and by casting only these eight actors, we can explore the great opposition and struggles of the characters at work,” Chips said in the website article. "These actors will remain present within the audience for the entire show, make character changes in full view, and talk with the audience while among them."
Perennial company favorites Lisa Leibering and Tonya Lynn will return as production designer and fight choreographer. Rounding out the cast are Andrew William Miller, Jessica Moore, Chuck Beikert, Nick Benninger, Madelyn Tomko, and Tonya Lynn.
“Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks’ productions are energetic, in your face, and the performers make the language come alive in a way that even small kids get it," Tober said. "We often, in fact, have kids—and adults—become involved in the action and talk back to the actors. Our productions are not doublet-and-hose Shakespeare; our shows are rough and tumble."
Each performance will be preceded by preshow entertainment, including a Falstaff's Fellows original-text adaptation of King Lear by kids for kids. Preshows begin 10 minutes before curtain, except for the Falstaff's Fellows who begin 45 minutes before the main show.
Audience members sit on blankets or chairs and move as the action roves about the park. Performances are free each Saturday and Sunday in September at the following locations:
August 2, 2015