King Lear | Cumston Hall Dates October 12-14
Tour Dates October 8-28

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Michael Dix Thomas

Two aging fathers, one a King, one his courtier, reject the children who truly love them. Their blindness unleashes a tempest of pitiless ambition—plunging king and kingdom into a hell of treachery, madness, and violence. Tender, chaotic, moving, and shocking, King Lear reveals the worst and best in human nature.

Cumston Hall Schedule
Friday, October 12, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 13, 1:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 14, 1:00 p.m.
Production Team

 

Michael Dix Thomas
Director
Meg Anderson
Set Designer
Elizabeth Rocha
Costume Designer
Jim Alexander
Technical Director/Lighting Designer
Katie Moshier
Stage Manager


Cast

Wendy Way
King Lear

Kate Manfre
Goneril

Trevor Latez Hayes Edgar

James Noel Hoban Albany/ Gloucester

Paul Haley
Kent

Heather Irish Regan

Ardarius Blakely Edmund

Chloe Bell Cordelia/ Fool


nea-shakespeare-in-american-communities
Theater at Monmouth’s production is part of Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

 

Funded in part by a grant from the Betterment Fund.

Michael Dix Thomas, director, describes Shakespeare’s King Lear as “epic, angsty, and exciting. In many ways it mirrors the delight we take from popular fantasy series like Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings. At the core, the story is a family drama with national implications of the largest scope. But like these fantasy series the excitement and drama come from the imaginative worlds, the high stakes adventures, the deliciously evil villains, and the self-sacrificing heroes.” The setting will be deliberately non-historically ancient, drawing on Shakespeare’s own anachronisms and echoing the fantasy style of Game of Thrones, and The Lord of the Rings. The world is ancient and earthy, suggesting a harsher and older society than our own. The use of a fantasy framework allows for a heightened universe for the play that is dangerous and foreign, but decidedly human and relatable. This opens up the depths of cruelty that exist side-by-side with the heights of altruism.

For many, Lear is a play about age and the loss of status, faculties, and the pride that accompanies the final stage of human life (apropos in Maine, the state with the highest median age). But King Lear is also a play about the next or new generation. This younger generation in Lear are forced to carve out their own place in the world in the face of irresponsible leadership. The production will be cast with a specific attention to appropriate age to tell that story so as to highlight the generational divide.

The play explores the extremes of human brutality as the Machiavellian villains claw their way up. Ultimately pure-hearted heroes overcome the villains and regain control of the country. Their victory, however, is not without cost, and they must confront the ultimate Shakespearian questions: How should we act? What must we do? What makes us human? Through a fantastic lens, King Lear demands that we consider our role in a changing society, and that we confront the questions of how we must act when our time comes. For a young audience on the cusp of accepting this responsibility in an ever-more divided world–this play provides ample opportunities for students to examine their own humanity and how they will contribute to a new world order in their lifetimes.