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KING LEAR (article first published : 2006-02-7)

A new staging of Shakespeare's tragedy, King Lear presented by The Actor's Co-Operative in association with the Playhouse Company, opens at the Playhouse in Durban on February 13 for a six-week season of performances for secondary schools audiences.

Produced by Garth Anderson and directed by Clare Mortimer, the production stars Ron Smerczak (Lear), Belinda Henwood (Cordelia), Clare Mortimer (Goneril), Josette Eales (Regan), Neil Coppen (Edmund), Jacobus van Heerden (Edgar), Adam Dore (Cornwall), Iain Robinson (Albany), Thomie Holtzhausen (Gloucester), Bryan Wallace (Fool), Rowan Bartlett (Kent) and Dean Roberts (Oswald).

Garth Anderson attended a wide range of Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre in London last year, where he found the prevailing trend in producing the Bard's works is to make productions as accessible as possible for contemporary audiences.

"This is in line with our own policy of staging bold, clean and uncluttered productions of Shakespeare's works," says Garth, who has developed an ongoing rapport with thousands of school learners in KwaZulu-Natal over the past two decades.

"Our objective in presenting school set works onstage, particularly Shakespeare, is to open them up as much as possible to young audiences," he says. "The Actor's Co-Operative has assembled an exceptionally strong cast for our 2006 Shakespeare production at the Playhouse, including many award-winning actors headed by Ron Smerczak, one of South Africa's most distinguished stage and screen performers."

Advance school bookings for King Lear are brisk and have already exceeded the 10,000 figure, in the wake of last year's production of Shakespeare's Macbeth, which enjoyed the attendance of more than 18,000 learners.

The production plays in the Playhouse Drama theatre twice daily until March 24, with weekday performances at 09h00 and 12h00. Evening public performances of King Lear will be given at 19h00 on February 24, March 2 and March 17. Bookings through Margie Coppen on 031 266 7892 or 083 251 9412.




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