5 Reasons Not to Miss King Lear This Summer

King Lear is heralded as one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies – but that’s not the only reason to catch Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s production in Southmoreland Park this summer. We give you five:

1. It’s FREE.

For 23 years, the Festival has brought FREE, high quality, professional Shakespeare productions to the Kansas City community. There’s no other theatre experience like it in town! We’re fulfilling our mission this year, presenting King Lear. That means you can watch professional actors tell this great tragedy under the night sky at no admission cost. Rather than spending $30 on a ticket, save what you’d pay for a night at the theatre to purchase food and drinks from Blanc burgers + bottles, this year’s featured food vendor.

2. It’s story telling on a grand scale.

Scenic designer Chaz Bell has given the King Lear acting company one of the biggest playing spaces in Festival history. You’ll travel from castles to cliffs, hovels to heaths, as you follow King Lear’s tragic journey. It’s a set you can only find in an outdoor theatre space the size of Southmoreland Park.

3. You’ll experience a play about nature WITH nature.

“Blow winds, and crack your cheeks!” Shakespeare mentions nature in King Lear more than in any of his other works. Imagine the summer wind howling through the park as Lear wanders into the storm on the heath. As the sun starts setting over the park, the storm on stage picks up. When Edgar goes to hide in a tree, or Gloucester seeks refuge in the forest, you won’t be able to tell the trees on stage from the trees in the park – because they’ll ALL be real.

4. See seasoned Shakespearean actors do what they do best.

The King Lear cast is beyond compare. John Rensenhouse, last seen as Polixenes in The Winter’s Tale, plays the title role. Veteran Festival actors Mark Robbins (Gloucester) and Matthew Rapport (Kent) play Lear’s loyal comrades. See three real-life couples perform on stage together: Kim Martin-Cotten (Goneril) and Jacques Roy (Edgar), Cinnamon Schultz (Regan) and Brian Paulette (Cornwall), and Emily Peterson (Cordelia) and Kyle Hatley (Edmund). The supporting cast features other Festival veterans as well as new local faces, giving you the chance to see talented actors who make their living right here in Kansas City.

5. You couldn’t always get a ticket to King Lear.

You get the chance to see a banned play! From 1810 to 1820, all performances of King Lear were banned out of respect (and probably fear) for the King. During the last ten years of his life, George III suffered bouts of insanity similar to those experienced by the title King. When King George III died in 1820, performances of the play resumed, but the play didn’t gain its contemporary popularity until well into the twentieth century. Up until the end of World War II, it was considered too tragic for audiences. The last time the Festival presented King Lear was in 2000, so don’t wait another 15 years for your chance to see this Shakespearean classic.

KING LEAR runs Tuesdays-Sundays, June 16 through July 5. Gates open at 6 pm, with pre-show activities in the park running until show time at 8 pm. Visit kcshakes.org for more information, including parking guidelines and park specifics. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @kcshakes for updates as we get closer to opening!

–Alyson Germinder

CategoriesCommunity News

Leave a Reply