Live-streamed “Shakespeare at Home” Rises from Free Shakespeare in the Park

This year's production, King Lear, to be live-streamed around the world

SF Shakes, "King Lear", group

San Francisco, CA, USAFree Shakespeare in the Park has been a San Francisco treat for some 38 years. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic protocols and social distancing still in effect, this year’s production demonstrates SF Shakes’ ability to rise to the challenge of the “pivot.”

In order to continue to deliver that same, amazing (and free!) professional Shakespeare production to its local community, SF Shakes devised a 100% remote, live, and online-streamed production “re-branded” to “Free Shakespeare at Home.”

So, this year fans of Shakespeare anywhere on the globe can enjoy an amazing live performance of this season’s play, King Lear, streamed directly into their homes. SF Shakes promises a compelling production, that will also capture that same thrill of a live performance.

King Lear runs weekends beginning this Saturday, September 12, 2020, at 7pm Pacific Standard Time (Sunday at 4pm Pacific Standard Time) and ends on Sunday, September 27, 2020. Show time is about three hours, and a playbill can be digitally downloaded from the SF Shakespeare site. One can simply go to the link below to watch and, if one would like to take part in chatting with other viewers, sign in using a personal YouTube account to share comments. No sign-in is necessary, however, to enjoy the free performance. The production will be live-streamed from what they are calling “the best Zoom theater you have seen.” And what a play, in particular, to be offered at this time in our World! King Lear, as the production company terms it, “is a story of a nation disrupted by political convulsion..”

King Lear Director, Elizabeth Carter, gets set for remote production

It’s good to remember that William Shakespeare was penning this work- and other amazing works- while quarantined during the plague of 1606. Pretty perfect for the now… “SF Shakes” has been developing the original King Lear script since March, the beginning of our own sheltering-in-place, and with an eye to include all of the things going on in the here-and-now as they impact and inform the vision of the original play.

Now, if that isn’t enough to further pique our interest in this gift (free, no less!), add to that the fact that SF Shakes Director Elizabeth Carter has cast a woman in the leading role.

Lead, as “King Lear,” Jessica Powell

Yes, you read that correctly. And this woman is not just any actor, but Jessica Powell, a skilled actor who has been in the trenches for quite some time. Need a little refresher on the King Lear narrative? Take a look at this very uniquely SF Shakes version, the King Lear Green Show:

“In October (2019),” Carter says in her Play Notes, “when Artistic Director Rebecca Ennals asked me to direct King Lear, I started
plotting on all the things the play said to me. I saw it visually on an expansive outdoor stage with a collapsing cathedral of trees. Dismantling and decay. A white female King in a male dominated world with three bi-racial children she has complicated relationships with.” But then “Shelter in Place” was ordered, and then all things were pressed to “go Zoom.” She’d need to revision…

“Then George Floyd happened,” Carter adds in her Notes, “and the world shifted again.”

“King Lear is a systemic as well as a very personal drama, Carter says further in her Notes. “It is the story of a woman who had to achieve and survive in a patriarchal world. She believes she has set up systems that
work, but they aren’t working, including her lack of understanding of her mixed heritage daughters. The country is strained under Black Lives Matter protests when the King chooses to abdicate her power to those daughters…”

It’s Carter’s aim that, by switching the gender for this role, the play might better reflect “the particular pressures women face in leadership positions.” Rest assured the lead role will still be known as “King Lear,” however this king “plans to use her retirement party to divide her kingdom equally among her three daughters…” We know the rest of the story, but how much might it morph given the new inclusions from our own real-time challenges?

Lead actor, JessicaPowell’s, “marks” for the special remote production

“We are at a moment of change,” Carter affirms in her Notes, “where our society has choices to make: to change or stay in a crumbling system. We can find our humanity again. We can seek forgiveness. We can rebuild with a new vision….but we might have to let go of a great deal in the process. Some things will die. We will rebuild.”

King Lear is Shakespeare at his very best. While the play has been adapted to reflect modern day events, SF Shakes confirms that the play will maintain its “thrilling language and unforgettable characters, as well as the famous storm scene.”

“I find myself constantly drawn to the frequent mentions of “nature,” “natural,” “unnatural,” Powell says.  “If I were telling someone to watch the show, I might mention that.”

Shakespeare lovers, get ye to the online streaming portal as indicated below. Don’t miss this!

Premier performance of SF Shakes’ King Lear on Saturday, September 12, 2020 and running through Sunday afternoon matinee on September 27, 2020 at SFShakes

CAST
King Lear ……………………………………………………………Jessica Powell*
Earl of Gloucester ……………………………………………………..Phil Lowery+ Goneril ………………………………………………………..Leontyne Mbele-Mbong
Regan……………………………………………………………………….Melissa Ortiz*
Cordelia/The Fool……………………………………………….Diana Lauren Jones
Earl of Kent……………………………………………………………….Cassidy Brown*
Edmund/Duke of Burgundy ………………………………………….Ron Chapman
Edgar/King of France ……………………………………..Yohana Ansari-Thomas
Duke of Albany/Oswald …………………………………… David Everett Moore*+
Duke of Cornwall/Lear’s Attendant …………………………….. Gabriella Grier
Curan/Performance Intern……………………………………………Evan Lucero
Attendant 1/Servant 2/French Soldier/Herald/Performance Intern ……….……………………………………………………………………………………………………..Viv Helvajian
Attendant 2/Servant 1/French Soldier/Captain/ Performance Intern……….. …………………………………………………………………………………………………..Hilary Buffum

PRODUCTION STAFF
Director ………………………………………………………………. Elizabeth Carter
Artistic Director …………………………………………………… Rebecca J. Ennals
Fight Director………………………………………………………Sydney Schwindt+
Technical Director/Scenic Designer/Graphic Designe………. Neal Ormond
Costume Designer…………………………..…………………………Hyun Sook Kim
Hair & Make-up Designer …………………………………….. Amelia Van Brunt
Lighting Designer ……..………………………………………………..John Bernard
Sound Designer/Composer …………………………………………….Lana Palmer
Production Manager……………………………………………….. Pratiksha Shah
Production Stage Manager………………………………………. Karen Schleifer*
Assistant Stage Manager………………………………………….Gabriella Howell
Green Show Writer/ Director …………………………………..Christian Haines
Literary Interns………….Eliana Lewis-Eme, Grace Nelligan, Arin Roberson
Stage Management Interns………………………. Sarah Orttung, Macy Taylor

About Michele Caprario 20 Articles
Michele Caprario is a writer and editor covering great people, projects, and things that bring goodness to the world.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*