King Lear Conquers Boston with a Free Shakespeare on the Common Performance
When Boston audience enjoyed A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC) in 1996, The Bard bug bit the city. Ever summer since, those who enjoy this dramatic playwright’s twists and turns enjoy fully-staged productions of his plays during Shakespeare on the Common. Now in its 20th season, they have performed for over 1 million audience members. And it’s free of charge.
With a cityscape backdrop and comfy blankets set upon the grass of the beloved Boston Common, the CSC unleashes its extreme talent onto the stage as they choose a new Shakespeare story during the summer months when local theatre companies tend to be on hiatus from their regular seasons.
Gather ’round the Parkman Bandstand with 100,000 of your closest friends toting blankets, lawn chairs and picnics for the troop’s first performance ever of King Lear.
Directed by CSC’s Founding Artistic Director Steven Maler and featuring Will Lyman as Lear, King Lear follows the journey of an aging king, faced with his own mortality and mental decline, who tries to secure the legacy of his kingdom by dividing it amongst his three daughters. Only through loss of pretty much everything – status, of love, of loyalty – does he figure out what’s truly meaningful when your time is up. In other words, King Lear’s an incredibly light and whimsical example of Shakespeare’s work. We’re lying. It’s one of his greatest tragedies.
Along with Lyman, the cast proves that talent abounds at the CSC: Mimi Bilinski plays daughter Regan, Libby McKnight is daughter Cordelia, and Deb Martin is daughter Goneril, rounding out with Mickey Solis as Edmund (the King’s illegitimate son), Ed Hoopman as King Lear’s son Edgar, and Jeremiah Kissel as the Earl of Kent (you’ll know him as Caius, you’ll find out why soon enough).
“King Lear is one of Shakespeare’s monumental plays,” says Maler. “There’s good reason I’ve waited 20 years to take it on. As with the greatest of Shakespeare’s history plays, Lear blends the political and the personal, interweaving a country’s destiny with the very human frailties of those charged with shepherding its future. The play reveals what it means to be human–our responsibilities to ourselves, our family and our fellow human beings–as well as true loyalty and loyalty as pretense for deceit, and the struggles in times of succession and transition that are as resonant today as they were 400 years ago.”
Will Lyman says, “In my fantasies, I hope this will be the best evening of Shakespeare anyone has ever seen; the one that makes people say, ‘I finally understand why everybody says Shakespeare was such a great playwright.’ In truth, I just hope this will be a theatre experience that speaks honestly about who we are, and about the difficulties and joys of our human experience.”
Since space is limited (and fight-worthy, if the King were to proclaim it so), consider reserving a Friends Section Chair. These low lawn chairs guarantee great views of the performance right in front of the CSC stage. Your $50 per chair fee also supports the CSC Fund, which helps make future free Shakespeare on the Common performances possible. Online reservations can be made up to four hours prior to each show.
With summer in full swing, it’s time to enjoy some outdoor theater. And trust us. This performance will be anything but common.
King Lear runs from July 22 – August 9, 2015 with show times at Tuesdays through Saturdays, 8pm; Sundays 7pm; and Saturday matinee August 8 at 3pm.