Elements Theatre Company presents Shakespeare’s gripping tale, King Lear. Wishing to retire but not abdicate, Lear divides his kingdom between his three daughters, according to which of them is most eloquent in praising him. His favorite, Cordelia, says nothing and the kingdom is never the same. Chaos is set in motion as family loyalty is tested and inhuman aggression is unleashed as appetites of revenge and greed run rampant in this once unified kingdom. An epic tale of sorrow, forgiveness, madness and reconciliation, King Lear is set in the Atrium of the Church of the Transfiguration in Orleans, MA. This production crowns Elements’ 2016 season celebrating the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
PERFORMANCES, PRE-PERFORMANCE GUEST SPEAKERS, DINNERS:
Performances: August 12, 13 & 14 and 19, 20, 21 – 8:00pm
Dinner & Performance: Saturday, August 13 and 20 – 6:00pm
Pre-performance Guest Speakers: August 12 & 19 – 7:00pm
August 12 – Kathryn Moncrief, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of English at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland
August 19 – Tina Packer, (Actor/Playwright), Founding Artistic Director of Shakespeare & Company, Lenox, MA
To watch the Livestream of Dr. Moncrief’s and Tina Packer’s pre-performance lectures about Shakespeare’s King Lear, click here!
Elements Theatre Company is offering a Special Students’ Performance Thursday, August 18 – 8:00pm
Join Artistic Director, Danielle Dwyer, CJ before the performance
for a talk about the show – 7:30pm
Free Admission for students
Presented outdoors in the Atrium of the Church of the Transfiguration
Rock Harbor, Orleans, MA
For reservations and tickets call 508-240-2400
Or purchase Tickets on-line here.
Performance: $35; $30 Seniors
Dinner & Performance: $65; $60
Lear, king of Britain, decides to step down from his throne and divide his kingdom among his three daughters. Before his whole court he proposes a contest whereby the daughter who is able to convince him that she loves him most will receive the largest share of his realm. His older daughters, Goneril and Regan, outdo each other with flattering answers, and Lear immediately grants them their shares of the kingdom. Cordelia, his favorite, however, refuses to participate in the sham, telling Lear that she loves him entirely as a daughter should love her father, but no more. In his rage at her response, Lear not only disowns Cordelia, but also banishes his most trusted advisor, Kent, when he comes to Cordelia’s defense. Lear divides the third of the realm that he had reserved for Cordelia between Goneril and Regan and imparts his power and authority to their husbands, Albany and Cornwall. The king of France, long a rival for Cordelia’s love, receives her as his wife, even though she comes without a dowry and with the promise of her father’s everlasting ire.
Almost immediately, Goneril and Regan renege on the agreement Lear made with their husbands, Cornwall and Albany. Lear and his hundred knights quickly become unwelcome at either of their homes, his servant is put in the stocks, and his authority is disrespected. Lacking other respite, Lear flees his daughters and wanders in madness into a fierce storm on the heath. Accompanied only by his Fool and the loyal Kent, who has returned in disguise to be his servant, Lear spends the night at the mercy of the elements.
Meanwhile, Gloucester, an honored nobleman in Lear’s court, is deceived by his illegitimate son, Edmund, into believing that his legitimate son, Edgar, is seeking his father’s life so that he may inherit his father’s lands and title. Edmund tricks Edgar as well, convincing him that Gloucester is in a rage against him and that his life is in danger. Edgar flees into the storm, and disguises himself as a mad beggar called “Poor Tom.”
Gloucester, still loyal to Lear and realizing that Goneril and Regan have turned against their father, decides to help Lear. He reveals to Edmund that a French army is poised to invade England to defend Lear against his daughters. Edmund tells Regan and her husband, Cornwall, who accuse Gloucester of treason, tear out his eyes, and turn him out of his castle into the storm. Cornwall is wounded by one of Gloucester’s servants and later succumbs to his wounds. Edgar, still disguised as Poor Tom, finds Gloucester and leads him to the city of Dover, where Kent has already taken Lear.
The French army has landed in Dover as part of an invasion force led by Cordelia who hopes to save her father. Edmund, playing on the weaknesses of Regan and Goneril, has become romantically involved with both. Because Goneril’s husband, Albany, has become increasingly sympathetic to Lear’s cause, Goneril and Edmund conspire to kill Albany when opportunity presents itself.
The despairing Gloucester wants to end his life, but Edgar saves him by leading him off an imaginary cliff and describing to him the miracle of his preservation from death. Meanwhile, when the English troops reach Dover, Edmund leads them to victory over the French forces led by Cordelia. Lear and Cordelia are captured and led away to prison. Edgar appears in Edmund’s camp, duels with Edmund, and mortally wounds him. Edgar recounts the death of Gloucester, whose grief and guilt could not be contained when he learned the truth about his sons. Jealous of Regan’s relationship with Edmund, Goneril has poisoned her sister and subsequently takes her own life when her plot against Albany is revealed. Before his death, Edmund seeks to rescind his execution orders against Lear and Cordelia, but he is too late. Lear appears with Cordelia’s body in his arms. Although he was able to kill her executioner, he was not able to save her life. He dies in grief over her body, leaving Edgar, Albany, and Kent to determine the kingdom’s future.
Cast & Staff
Cast & Staff
Artistic Director – Danielle Dwyer, CJ
Technical Director – Christopher Kanaga
Tina Packer (Actor / Playwright) is the founding Artistic Director of Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Massachusetts. She has directed most of Shakespeare’s plays, acted in seven of them and taught the whole canon one way or another at over thirty colleges in the U.S., including Harvard, M.I.T. and NYU.
She has received the state of Massachusetts’s highest honor, The Commonwealth Award, and has six honorary degrees. During the mid-90’s, Tina conceived the idea for Women of Will, and subsequently received grants from the Guggenheim and Bunting fellowships to fund the project.
Kathryn Moncrief, PhD, is Professor and Chair of English at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland and is the recipient of Washington College’s Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Teaching. She currently serves as co-editor of the Shakespeare Life and Times for the Internet Shakespeare Editions. She is co-editor of Shakespeare Expressed: Page, Stage and Classroom in Early Modern Drama (Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2013); Performing Pedagogy in Early Modern England: Gender, Instruction and Performance (Ashgate, 2011); and Performing Maternity in Early Modern England, (Ashgate, 2007). She is the author of articles published in book collections and journals, including Shaping Shakespeare for Performance, Metaliterary in Practice, Gender and Early Modern Constructions of Childhood, Renaissance Quarterly and others and is author ofCompetitive Figure Skating for Girls (Rosen, 2001). She also works as a dramaturg.
News & Reviews
News & Reviews
Outstanding Production From Wicked Local – Cape Codder:
“The director, set designers and actors of this excellent production of “King Lear” by the Elements Theater Company know what they’re doing.” ” ….at the Elements Theater Company, production values are exquisite.” ” If you are not yet familiar with the outstanding Shakespeare productions at Elements, consider introducing yourself with “King Lear.”” READ MORE:
Dynamite review from Broadway World – A True King Rises with King Lear at Elements Theatre! “Everything about this production is awe-inspiring, from the intricate yet natural looking set (kind of like the idea of a French garden) to the wonder of the audience actually feeling as though it is a part of the story being told because of both the proximity of the actors and the overall “feel” of the show…” Read more:
Chronicle Review – Profound Lear
“Director Sister Danielle Dwyer does not overlook a detail or subtext. The grand portrayal of “Lear” exquisitely unfolds outside, in the atrium …” READ MORE!
Cape Cod Times
RAVE REVEIW ! “Director Danielle Dwyer handles this production’s huge repertory of players smoothly, as she reliably does, and illuminates hidden ironies in the text. And the acting here is strong…” READ MORE!
KING LEAR TAKES THE STAGE – Preview in the Worcester Telegram, Richard Duckett
From the Director
From the Director
Welcome to King Lear. An epic play that has been studied, dissected and performed many times over. There is very little new to say, so I write to you about our experience with King Lear. This play is about the stripping away of one man’s power and person, his family’s facade and the structure of the world as he knew it. In this stripping away of order, the heart of each character is revealed and what they are willing to do to survive.
We see sacrifice and service in a few, we see great cruelty and hatred in some, and we see the opportunists rise to the fore given the chance.
King Lear is not just about a man or a family, but about a world that through division has been set on a 45 degree plane, where its characters are trying to re- gain a new balance, like sitting on a fault line waiting for the next eruption. Fear and trust become the strongest contenders in this world and civility and grace (that had once been customary) are trampled upon by greed, lust and cruelty. Lear, a once feared and great King, breaks apart before our eyes and his wounds leak and spill on those loyal to him.
The level of cruelty in this play begs the question…why? What has taken place in the past that has given cause for such destruction?
In Act 1, Scene 1, after Lear divides his kingdom, banishes Kent and disowns Cordelia, Regan speaks of Lear, “…yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself, “ Is this one clue that has he lived a life of no awareness outside of himself? We also see in Act 3 Scene 6, after anatomizing the imaginery body of Regan, Lear says, “…see what breeds about her heart. Is there any cause in nature that make these hard hearts?”
It is only the virtuous actions of the heart that can make the plane of the world balance again, bringing back civility, grace and honor as a fruit of sacrifice and love. These actions to “right the world” cost the characters, in some cases battling members of their own family. In the end, Edgar says, “speak what we feel, not what we ought to say”, the true heart is the one voice that can unmask the cruel and hard of heart; thereby disabling the forces of destruction.
Thank you for joining us for this, our first King Lear and this celebration of Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary of his life and death. We wish you and yours peace and health.
Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful. Measure for Measure
Sr. Danielle Dwyer,
Artistic Director, Elements Theatre Company
See and Hear
See and Hear
Photos of King Lear
King Lear and Cordelia
King Lear, Cordelia and Caius
King Lear, Poor Tom and the Fool
King Lear with his favorite, youngest daughter, Cordelia.
Caius (Kent disguised) with King Lear in the woods.
Edmund telling his brother Edgar he must flee for his life.
Regan, second daughter of King Lear, scheming with her husband, Cornwall.
King Lear rages against the Earl of Kent
Earl of Kent
After Closing Labyrinth, the night before, the Company had a breakfast read of King Lear. We were joined by Kathryn Moncrief, Ph. D., Professor of English, Department Chair, Washington College, Maryland.