By April 23, 2015 Read More →

Shakespeare Under the Stars Brings ‘King Lear’ to Life

Prime Shine Carwash Partners With the Department of Theatre for Free Shows at the Amphitheater Starting April 28

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The Department of Theatre at CSU Stanislaus is preparing its annual presentation of Shakespeare Under the Stars. The production is free to the community and will feature the Bard’s brooding tragedy “r” in the University Amphitheater April 28 to May 3. Attendees are invited to bring a meal, spread out a blanket or low chairs on the lawn, and enjoy the unique outdoor ambiance of the performance.

“’King Lear’ is a dark and mystifying tragedy. If you are a fan of ‘Game of Thrones,’ this should be really exciting,” said John Mayer, chair of the Department of Theatre.

Now in its sixth year, Shakespeare Under the Stars is designed to bring a great theatre experience to the community. This year, Prime Shine Carwash has partnered with the Department of Theatre to bring Shakespeare to life.

A strong advocate for the arts, Prime Shine believes that expression through music, theatre and the visual arts encourages creativity and makes for a more educated and vibrant community, said Evan Porges, president of Prime Shine. And with the opening of its latest state-of-the-art location on University Drive directly across from CSU Stanislaus, the company felt it was important to revitalize its commitment to the University.

“Shakespeare Under the Stars is a University event that is on the community’s campus, which makes it a community event,” Porges said. “It will be wonderful to see students and community members of all ages enjoying live theatre under the stars in the amphitheater setting — truly the definition of an enjoyable learning experience for all.”

With the support of Prime Shine this year and next, the University will be able to offer a fully staged, high-quality production free to the community.

“We are so thankful for the generous support Prime Shine has contributed to Shakespeare Under the Stars,” Mayer said. “This year’s production of ‘King Lear’ will rival many of the major Shakespeare festivals across the country.”

Under the direction of Patricia O’Donnell and featuring award-winning theatre professor Jere O’Donnell in the title role, the cast includes professionals, local actors, faculty, alumni and students.

O’Donnell describes the stage design by Eric Broadwater and costume design by Jonathan Singer as fluid and expressionistic, incorporating both modern and historical references.

The text of the play has been condensed, eliminating references to traveling long distances, O’Donnell explained. The result is a shorter overall runtime for the play in addition to a compressed timeline within the story.

“We’ve ratcheted the intensity and rashness of the events by compressing time,” O’Donnell said. “Our hope is that it keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.”

O’Donnell also described how the message of the story can connect with modern audiences. Near the end of his life Lear considers deep, universal questions: “Have I lived a good life?” “Have I prepared to transition?” “What will I leave behind?”

The play also examines the source from which leaders derive their authority and the responsibility of society to both challenge and empower their chosen leaders.

“Lear’s admonition, ‘Take physic pomp, expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,’ is excellent advice to anyone who would be a leader, but also to any of us who have not felt the pangs of poverty — to not make that experience necessary in order to come to compassion and empathy, awareness of self and gratitude,” O’Donnell said.

For details about the performance of King Lear, visit www.csustan.edu/shakespeare.

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