The Department of Theatre and Dance at East Tennessee State University will present a virtual online audio performance of “King Lear: Scenes from Shakespeare’s Play.” The show will premiere on April 23 at 7 p.m. and will be available for streaming through April 29.
The ETSU production will be fashioned after “The Mercury Theatre on the Air,” which is regarded as the finest radio drama of the 1930s and was founded by Orson Welles and John Houseman. During its time on the air, the show performed a number of Shakespearean works, including “Julius Caesar” and “Twelfth Night.”
Believed to have been written between 1603 and 1606, this Shakespearean classic tells the story of King Lear, who decides to divide his kingdom among two of his daughters while banishing his third daughter, the one who, in fact, truly loves him. When his other two daughters reject him, Lear goes mad and wanders through a storm.
ETSU Theatre and Dance students featured in scenes from “King Lear” are Abigail Arnett, Aubrey Toncray, Billie Williams, Emily Austin, Gabe Felty, Hana Goss, Hunter Thomas, J.T. Roberts, Kayla Fielder, Laura Watson, Lindsay Flewell, Michaela Regester, Myla Anderson, Sarah Hill, Seth Buckles, Tyler Mitchell, Wesley Harmon and Zoe Cameron.
Appearing in the title role of Lear is longtime ETSU faculty member Herb Parker.
“It has been an honor to step into this role,” said Parker, who, after serving on the ETSU faculty for 16 years will retire this June. “I was surprised by how much energy it requires doing this role. There is a lot of weight to carry in portraying this role, but it has been a marvelous opportunity.”
He added he has enjoyed having his students as costars.
“I’ve loved working with them and discovering the process of doing Shakespeare together,” Parker said. “I’m certainly still learning after all these years.”
Parker is directing “King Lear” along with Bobby Funk, professor of Theatre and Dance. The production team includes Emma-Rae Carson as stage manager, Kailey Kyle and Thomas Batchelor as assistant stage managers, Caroline Daniels as sound designer Melissa Shafer as recording engineer, Zach Olsen as mixing engineer and Jonathon Taylor as video editor.
Patrons can visit the Department of Theatre and Dance’s website at www.etsu.edu/theatre beginning April 23 at 7 p.m. to view the show. The show is free, and advanced reservations are not required. For more information, call 423-439-6511.