Saskatoon’s newest theatre company, Theatre Naught, is bringing King Lear to the stage as its first and possibly only production.
Theatre Naught, a local actor co-op, currently has just one play on its docket and it’s unclear what direction the acting group will take after its debut performance.
Skye Brandon, a U of S drama graduate who has performed at Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan and at the Stratford Festival, founded Theatre Naught in the fall of 2011.
According to the Star Phoenix, Brandon will return to Stratford, Ont. in February for another season with the city’s theatre festival.
Brandon wanted to use his time between performances to put on a play during the winter break.
Theatre Naught “really came out of the desire to do Shakespeare with actors here in Saskatoon. I missed working with friends,” Brandon said. Brandon and the troupe had a tight window to plan their debut as Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan took up much of their time during the summer while many of the participants were also in other shows and projects.
The co-op was drawn to King Lear for their debut because of the challenge Shakespeare presents.
“It’s hard to do and when you can make [Shakespeare] resonate with today’s audience, nothing quite beats it,” Brandon said.The play is based on the legend of Leir of Britain, an ancient Celtic king of the Britons.
The tragedy of King Lear focuses on Lear’s efforts to divide up his kingdom between his three daughters. Lear offers the largest portion of his kingdom to the daughter who loves him the most, or who presents the most flattery towards him, which divides the family and causes a conflict that eventually drives him mad.
Brandon said that Theatre Naught also chose King Lear based on the personnel the group had available to them — specifically, they felt local actor Kent Allen would be great as the title character.
“Someone said, ‘Kent is in the company, why don’t we do Lear?’ and then [we discussed] who’s in the co-op that we have and how can we build on the strengths that we have,” said Brandon, who will be playing Edgar in the production.
Brandon hopes that because this play isn’t performed often it will resonate with its audience.
“For a lot of people, I dare say, it might be the first time they see it produced,” Brandon said.
“Shakespeare is a whole different beast when you get to watch it as opposed to reading it off the page. There’s a lot of important ideas. I hope people see themselves in Lear.”[box type=info”]King Lear will show at the backstage of Persephone at the Remai Arts Centre. The show opened Dec. 28 and runs until Jan. 12.[/box]
Photos: Tim Yaworski