Theatre Arts & Dance to Present King Lear

Published: September 15, 2011 | Category: Arts

A classic tale of family loyalty and betrayal, William Shakespeare’s King Lear remains as one of the stage’s great tragedies. Southern Utah University’s College of Performing and Visual Arts presents the classic saga September 29-30, October 1, 7 and 8 at the Adams Shakespearean Theatre. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. for all three performances with a pre-show by SUU's Fools' Assembly at 7 p.m.

The production is directed by Peter Sham, co-chair of Theatre Arts and Dance, and launches the 2011-2012 Theatre Arts and Dance Season.

Considered to be one of Shakespeare’s greatest dramatic masterpieces, King Lear is renowned for its probing observations on human suffering and family relationships. As the drama unfolds, Lear decides to dispose of his estate among his three daughters, based on their devotion. His elder daughters, Goneril and Regan, offer their father false flattery while the youngest, the loyal Cordelia, cannot find the words to express her sentiments which infuriates Lear. He awards the kingdom to his two elder daughters…and his decision soon brings tragic consequences for all.

Director Peter Sham sums up the play as “King Lear is called, by many directors and scholars, ‘Shakespeare’s most un-stageable play.’ This complex work deals with greed, lust, sibling rivalries, adultery, old age, madness, the earth, the stars and the notion that things are seldom what they seem; that hatred and evil may wear the mask of beauty and kindness. Our production will endeavor to explore a human Lear, who is both king to his subjects and father to his children, a man who descends into madness and back again as he struggles to relinquish control of his kingdom to his heirs. Our goal is to create a production of King Lear, in both design and concept, that is clear and immediate to audiences of today while illuminating the darkest corners of humanity and to that end SUU's adaptation promises several surprises never before seen in any production of King Lear in history.”

Collaborating with Sham on developing his vision for the drama are set designer Brian Jude Beacom, costume designer Kaylin James, lighting designer Holly Pierce, hair and make-up designer McKenzie Denison, sound designer Kristen Hair, and composer Christine Frezza, Amy Norton serves as stage manager.

The cast is headed by Payden Adams in the title role of Lear. Adams has appeared onstage at SUU as the Stage Manager in Our Town, Schroeder in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and most recently as the scene-stealing Boyet in Love’s Labour’s Lost. He has just returned from Wuhan, China, where he created the role of Edgar Snow in the Hubei Opera and Dance Drama Theatre world premiere production of Dream of Helen.

On undertaking the role of Lear, Adams replied, “Having the opportunity to portray King Lear, arguably one of Shakespeare's greatest roles, is a dream come true. The complex challenges one faces when dealing with text, physicality and age should be enough to scare the pants off of even the most experienced actor... not this one."

The cast also features Emilie Andersen-Moulton as the loyal Cordelia while Darrah Jones and Emma Phelps portray the treacherous Goneril and Regan respectively. The cast includes Brian James as Earl of Gloucester, Jenny Smith as the Fool, Grayson Moulton as Edgar and McKay Tripp as Edmond. Featured in the show are Alex Allred, Morgan Calloway, Jed Christensen, Heather Gibeson, Matthew Hanchey, Ben Harris, Nathaniel Marble, Chris Rudolph and Jessica Winward.

In addition to the performance, there is a pre-show by SUU’s Fools Assembly that begins at 7 p.m. each night.

Come to the Adams Shakespearean Theatre to experience one of the Bard’s most blistering dramas, King Lear. Tickets are free to SUU students with a valid ID; $10 for general admission; $8 for SUU faculty and staff; and $5 for youth.

Money-saving season subscriptions are still available for Theatre Arts and Dance Series (which includes six events) at $48 for the General Public and $24 for Student/Child. For tickets, call (435) 586-7872, Monday-Friday, 8am-4:30pm, or purchase at the Centrum Arena box office. Tickets may be purchased online at

The Theatre Arts and Dance Series includes the witty musical revue, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; the heartfelt Almost, Maine; the song-filled Broadway adaptation Little Women the Musical; Breaking Bounds: a Student Dance Concert; and Journeys: a Faculty Dance Concert.

The Southern Utah University College of Performing and Visual Arts is comprised of nationally accredited departments of Art and Design, Music, Theatre Arts and Dance, as well as a graduate program in Arts Administration. The College offers 16 different degree areas, including liberal arts Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees; professional Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Fine Arts in art and theatre degrees; and a Master of Fine Arts in Arts Administration degree. More than 60 full- and part-time faculty and staff are engaged in teaching and mentoring over 550 majors in the College. Over 1100 students enroll each year in over 195 arts classes on the SUU campus. The College presents 100 performances, lectures, presentations, and exhibitions each year. The College’s affiliate organizations include the Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery, American Folk Ballet, Utah Shakespeare Festival, the performance group Acclamation, and the SUU Ballroom Dance Company.

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