The Wyoming Shakespeare Festival Company will perform “King Lear” for the first time in Gillette on Thursday.
The performance at 6 p.m. on the green at Gillette College is one of 12 the Lander company will make throughout Wyoming this summer on its annual tour. The event is free, although donations will be accepted.
“We love coming to Gillette. It’s one of our favorite venues,” said Diane Springford, a professional actor who is the artistic director and plays a role in the production of “King Lear,” a Shakespearean tragedy.
Springford said she likes to perform in Gillette because “the audience is so astute.”
But there are some drawbacks: “Sometimes it’s a little bright out there,” she said, worrying a bit about the possibility of high temperatures. Still, the Gillette spectators will be able to sit in the shade on the green outside the main campus building in lawn chairs they bring along.
It is the 13th season the Wyoming Shakespeare Festival Company has performed throughout the state. Springford is a co-founder of the company.
Springford points out that “King Lear” is an epic. She remembers seeing a French/German production of the play that went on for about nine hours over two days and included full thunder and lightning storms.
The show in Gillette will run closer to two hours.
“The Wyoming Shakespeare Festival Company’s raison d’etre is to give to our fellow Wyoming communities the greatest dramatic works ever written,” she added.
The full span of “King Lear” is condensed, Springford said, but she doesn’t considers it cut, “as the full work informs our choices, our actions.”
The story of King Lear
The play is about the aging king of Britain, King Lear, who plans to split is domain evenly between his three daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia.
Goneril (played by Springfield) and Regan gush about their love to their father when asked. But Cordelia, who is sincere in her love for Lear, refuses to pander to him.
Lear is put off by Cordelia’s response and disinherits her. One of his lords, Kent, tries to reason with Lear and is banished from his kingdom, yet travels with him in disguise.
At the same time, another family drama unfolds with Gloucester and his two sons, Edgar and Edmund.
Lear soon finds out how much love his two older daughters have for him, as both treat him badly when he stays with them. The impotent old man is driven mad by his grief at seeing the true nature of his two daughters. He is eventually reunited with Cordelia, as Gloucester is with his son Edgar.
But eventually, all of the main actors in the play die, destroyed by the machinations of others and their own desires.
In addition to Springfield, the cast includes Dave Geible as King Lear; Lydia Clark as Regan; Cassie Marple as Cordelia; Ed Novotny as Gloucester; John O’Hagan as Edmund; Ted Haworth as Edgar; Andrew Knutsen as Albany, the husband of Goneril; Aaron King as Cornwall; Laurence Miles as Kent; Cody Mock as Oswald and France; and Nate Murdoch as Curan, Burgundy and servant.
The cast also will perform as attendants, messengers and soldiers.
In addition, David Neary is technical adviser and set designer; Lillian Clark is stage manager; John O’Hagan is fight director; Dot Newton is financial director; and Springford and Mock are in charge of costumes and sound.
If you go
What: Free performance of “King Lear” by the Wyoming Shakespeare Festival Company
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Gillette College on the green, outdoors behind main campus building
Audience: Most of the seating is in the shade, but bring your own lawn chairs