Befriending King Lear

Edmund slices through the air with his double headed axe and the disguised Edgar parries with his spear. The old wooden floor of this 1878 opera house creaks under the combatants’ feet and our fight captain carefully adjusts the choreography for safety and precision. I’m observing fight call prior to our evening rehearsal of King Lear, a production for which I am serving as co-director as well as playing the roles of Cordelia and the Fool.

Photo Credit: John Sutton.

Photo Credit: John Sutton

This project at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge, New York, is a very different artistic adventure for me. A few differences:

It’s my first time working in an indoor theatre space in over a decade.

I met the actors for the first time at our opening read through just weeks ago! Since founding We Players in 2000, I’ve had the privilege of hand selecting the actors I work with. Those actors have either worked with me previously, experienced my work as an audience member or participated in We Players’ intensive workshop style audition process.

We’re working in “the round”, with audience on all sides of us, and they are seated in chairs, quite unlike the on-your-feet, physical adventure of attending a We Players site-integrated production.

All of this is challenging me to stretch my practice, to adapt my sensibilities to the needs of this space, this group of people.

It’s also an opportunity to deepen my collaboration with long time friend and creative confidant, John Hadden. For the past several years we’ve brought John to California to join We Players, and he’ll be joining us again this spring for our remount of Macbeth at Fort Point. John and I have a collection of new and experimental projects cooking on the back burner. Projects that live in the shadowy territory of the imagination. One of these visions is a two person production of King Lear. In our “King Fool”, the King and his fool wander through time and space, telling old stories, playing all the parts, reliving their miseries and seeking humor in the face of horror.

For me, this King Lear at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge NY is the beginning of a long term relationship with the play. We are beginning to unpack the text and discover the characters – their relationships, their fears, their loves and losses. As a director, I often feel so lucky that I am present at each rehearsal and can share in the discoveries at every step along the way. The days are long. Before and after 10+ hour rehearsals at Hubbard Hall, I play the role of Artistic Director for We Players from afar, keeping operations smooth and continuing to further our mission.

The exhaustion is well worth it. This King Lear is allowing me to stretch myself as a director, to deepen my work with John, and to shed light into the labyrinthine corridors of Shakespeare’s massive epic. The play is becoming my friend and I look forward to finding it’s home in California, where I may someday soon bring a full-scale site-integrated King Lear to the Bay with We Players.

For the moment, the King and the Fool are packing their bags with new insights and wonder…

Photo credit: John Sutton.

Photo credit: John Sutton.

-Ava Roy


King Lear

The Theater Company at Hubbard Hall presents King Lear by William Shakespeare, directed by John Hadden.

Shakespeare’s universal epic. A dying king, chaos in nature and among the people, family blood feuds, madness and the heroic will to love and understand.

February 27, Pay-what-you-will Open Rehearsal at 8:00pm
Opening Night Dinner – Friday, February 28
Fridays at 8pm: February 28, March 7, 14, 21
Saturdays at 8pm: March 1, 8, 15, 22
Sundays at 2pm: March 2, 9, 16, 23
Hubbard Hall Mainstage

Tickets: $25 general admission / $22 members / $15 students / $0 subscribers
To purchase tickets and to learn more about this production, click here.