Beers & the Bard

Get ready for Antaeus Theatre Company’s next production of As You Like It by joining musically talented members of our company for an evening of songs inspired by the Bard. Grab a beer, sit back and enjoy as genres collide in this Shakespearean musical event!

Program is on Saturday, June 24 from 8pm-10pm at the Kiki and David Gindler Performing Arts Center in Glendale.


Andrew Barnicle heads May Shakespeare Workout!

“Marrying the Classical to the Contemporary”

With Guest Moderator:  Andrew Barnicle

Through lecture, monologue work, and scene study, the workshop will reconcile Shakespeare’s verse with Stanislavski beatwork. Actors gain an understanding first of why the Elizabethans wrote the way they did, then a series of exercises that break iambic pentameter into workable beats, with the aid of guidelines to help understand and emotionalize verse.

Classes will take place Tuesday afternoons 1:30pm-5:00pm on:

May 10, 17, 24, 31

Limited spaces available.  Email to sign up!

ANDREW BARNICLE served as artistic director of The Laguna Play­house from 1991 through 2010.  In that time he produced over 100 Playhouse shows and directed over 40 of them, including many World, U.S., West Coast and Southern California premieres. Recent directing projects include Noel Coward’s Private Lives, Ron Hutchinson’s Moonlight and Magnolias, (which also played the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts as a co-production with McCoy/Rigby Entertainment, and Burbank’s Colony Theatre), Michael Hollinger’s An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf and Red Herring, Yazmina Reza’s Art, the World Premieres of Bernard Farrell’s The Verdi Girls, Richard Dresser’s The Pursuit of Happiness, the U.S. premiere of Bernard Farrell’s Many Happy Returns, Steve Martin’s The Underpants, and Somerset Maugham’s The Constant Wife.  Andy directed a wide range of works over the years, including the award-winning American Buf­falo, three other U.S. premieres by Bernard Farrell, Richard Dresser’s Rounding Third and Wonderful World, and Andy’s world premiere adapta­tion of his wife Sara’s translation of Carlo Goldoni’s The Liar, as well as Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Othello, and Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People.  Andrew previously served as Head of Theatre at United States International University’s School of Performing and Visual Arts in San Diego, and was the Associate Artistic Director of the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach, where he directed seven plays, including the San Diego premiere of Torch Song Trilogy. He has also directed at San Diego’s Theatre at Old Town, Michigan’s LORT Meadow Brook Theatre, Gunmetal Blues, Rounding Third, and Charels Evered’s Celadine at the Colony Theatre, and The Foreigner at the San Jose Repetory Theatre.  As an actor, he has appeared numerous times Off-Broadway and in major roles in eighteen LORT productions across the country, including Meadow Brook Theatre, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, San Diego Rep, the Alaska Rep, and five roles at The Laguna Playhouse, including The Actor in Enter The Guardsman, Sam Galahad in both the production and on the cast album CD of Gunmetal Blues, and most recently as Lawrence in David Rambo’s The Ice-Breaker.

April Shakespeare Workout with Armin Shimerman!

Shakespeare Seen Through the Elizabethan World View

The class will incorporate period thinking, history, religion, language and the classical study of rhetoric and context. You will be given a method of approaching ANY English classical playwright, and an acting technique that will help you explore character and convey meaning to a modern audience. Class will focus on monologue study.


Classes will take place Tuesday afternoons,
April 5-26 from 1:30-5:00pm.

For more information:
Deirdre Murphy, Artistic Coordinator, at

About Armin Shimerman:

Armin Shimerman

With a degree in English from UCLA, Armin Shimerman apprenticed at the San Diego Old Globe Theater and eventually took over the lead comic roles. He emigrated to New York where within a year he was performing for Joseph Papp in the highly acclaimed production of “3 Penny Opera” at Lincoln Center. Armin went on to work many years on Broadway in “St. Joan” with Lynn Redgrave at the Circle in the Square, “Broadway” with Teri Garr and Glen Close, and finally Richard Rogers’ last musical “I Remember Mama.” Years of work in Regional Theater followed including Stage West, Connecticut Shakespeare Festival, Vermont Champlain Shakespeare Festival, Indiana Repertory, Rutgers’ Mason Gross Theater, Los Angeles Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles Theatre Center, Tyrone Guthrie Theater, Seattle’s ACT, and the San Diego Repertory Theatre production of “King Lear”. He was nominated for lead performance by the prestigious Los Angeles Ovation Awards for his performance in Pinter’s “The Birthday Party” at the Matrix Theatre. Last year, he returned to San Diego Rep. to play the lead in “Seafarer” and for his performance won the San Diego Critics Award.

Armin moved to Los Angeles in the early 80’s, where he started his television and film career. He has guest starred in over 80 different TV shows and had major recurring roles as Pascal in Beauty and the Beast, Cousin Bernie in Brooklyn Bridge, Tommy Walker in the Invisible Man, Judge Hooper on Boston Legal and, of course, Principal Snyder in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, he is perhaps best known to the public for his seven years as the incorrigible QUARK on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Mr. Shimerman is also a published author: The “34th Rule” ,“Merchant Prince,” “Outrrageous Fortune,” A Capital Offense” . His writings are a product of years of teaching Elizabethan Rhetoric to classical actors and a lifelong study of Shakespeare. Among others, he has taught at UCLA, The Guthrie Theatre, Theatricum Botanicum, the High School for the Performing Arts, Claremont College, and Antaeus. He has directed several of the Bard’s plays. He is currently a board member and director for the Antaeus Theatre Company, L.A.’s classical company.


ClassicsFest 2010: ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’

As ClassicsFest 2010 unspools, we’ll be featuring insights from the project initiators about what inspired them to choose their plays and their experience of working on them.

The Merry Wives of Windsor
by William Shakespeare

I have been in Merry Wives of Windsor five times, three times playing ‘Falstaff’ ( New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Utah Shakespearean Festival), playing ‘Ford’ once (local theatre), and the ‘Host’ once for the Old Globe. Each Time I saw or acted in the play I grew to really love it. It was always an audience favorite and the most accessible of any Shakespeare I have ever seen. The play has sometimes gotten a bad rap because Shakespeare supposedly wrote it at Queen Elizabeth’s request to “show Falstaff in Love” and dashed it off in ten days. Yes, there are some problems in the play but with some judicious cutting (as I have done here) it remains extremely rich in wonderful Shakespearean characters. It is Shakespeare’s homage to the middle class of which he was a part and generally got short shrift in the canon. The characters are tremendous for a company like Antaeus where we have an abundance of talent. Surprising, many people don’t know the play. I hope you learn to love it like I do.

– Bob Machray, Actor and Project Initiator

The Merry Wives of Windsor plays as a “First Look” on July 24th at 3pm.

Peter van Norden on ‘King Lear’

One of the benefits of an ensemble company is the wisdom and insights of those offstage as well as the talents of those appearing in a particular production. Throughout the run of our production of King Lear and ClassicsFest 2010, we’ll be sharing thoughts from Antaeus company members about their experiences of the shows they see.

Peter Van Norden on King Lear
Okay. Lear. I’ve done the play twice and seen it countless times, so it’s the small, interesting choices that I’m drawn to – that fascinate me. So, here’s two moments that I found quite striking…one an image and one a “surprise” that I found quite affecting.

‘Lear’ before the hovel, at the end of the storm, III, iv.
It’s a famous speech, of course, ‘Lear’ praying in the tempest – “Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are…” — but both Dakin and Harry have found a fully realized moment with “O, I have ta’en too little care of this.” It becomes a sudden, surprising revelation to both Kings — and it humanizes ‘Lear’ in a visceral, beautifully moving way. In both performances, this sudden self-realization quite literally took my breath away. I’ve never seen the moment presented as clearly or as movingly.

Another “surprising image” that startlingly brings the depth of the play into a shattering focus is provided by both our ‘Edgars’ and ‘Edmunds’ — at the very end of their fight. When ‘Edgar’ finally has the upper hand in the battle…he suddenly and viciously goes for ‘Edmund’s’ eyes, as if to pluck them out. For me, this horrifying image brought an extra level to their struggle – a level that I found quite affecting and that reflects on all that’s gone before it. Not only is this a political battle (for power), and not only is it ‘Edgar’s’ personal revenge for what’s been done to him…but it’s ‘Edgar’s’ uncontrollable response to what has been so unjustly done to their father (‘Gloucester’). It solidifies the ‘Gloucester/Edgar’ relationship in one startling, almost unbearable moment. Kudos to Bart and Ramon/John/Seamus/Daniel for coming up with this idea. Great moment….

‘King Lear’ Announces Cast – Official Press Release

Contact: Lucy Pollak (for media only)
(818) 887-1499

Antaeus Company opens ClassicsFest 2010 with Shakespeare’s tale of madness, tyranny, loyalty and love:
Bart DeLorenzo directs  KING LEAR.
Harry Groener and Dakin Matthews are double cast in the title role.

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA – May 18, 2010 – “Blow, winds, crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!” The Antaeus Company, L.A.’s classical theater ensemble, opens ClassicsFest 2010 with its first full production of a Shakespeare play. Bart DeLorenzo directs King Lear with renowned scholar, actor and Antaeus founding artistic director Dakin Matthews and Broadway veteran/three-time Tony nominee Harry Groener heading two fully double-cast ensembles. Two gala openings, one with each cast, take place on Saturday, June 26 at 8 pm and Sunday, June 27 at 4 pm, with performances continuing through August 8 at Antaeus’ interim home, Deaf West Theatre in the NoHo Arts District. Low-priced previews begin June 12.

King Lear is the politically resonant, timeless and searing story of an aging monarch, a kingdom divided and a family in turmoil. Lear’s decision to divide his kingdom among his three daughters ignites a firestorm of greed and betrayal. Displaced as king and cast out as patriarch, Lear discovers the fragility of familial bonds as he descends into madness. Shakespeare’s sublime poetry infuses this towering tragedy, a tale of family, duty, politics and mortality.

King Lear marks the first full production of a Shakespeare play in The Antaeus Company’s 19-year history.

“We chose Lear because it’s a fantastic ensemble piece, and because we wanted to feature our founding artistic director, Dakin Matthews,” explains artistic director Jeanie Hackett. “Dakin is one of the country’s foremost interpreters of the Bard, and this is an opportunity to explore a Shakespearean play with the master. We double-cast all our productions, a technique that strengthens the way we collaborate and work together as an ensemble, so we’re incredibly fortunate to have the equally superlative actor Harry Groener to share the title role.”

Widely regarded as Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy and arguably one of the greatest English-language plays ever written, King Lear explores domestic, spiritual and political themes in a primal world and an ambiguous time that could just as easily be hundreds of years ago or hundreds of years from now. Harold Bloom, writing in “The Invention of the Human,” calls King Lear a play that shows “an apparent infinitude that perhaps transcends the limits of literature.”

“Many productions are opening in the U.S. and around the world this year, and that’s not a coincidence” notes DeLorenzo. “Everything is in flux: the economy, health care, the political power structure. When the world is changing, theaters do Lear.”

In addition to Matthews and Groener, the ensemble features Allegra Fulton and Kirsten Potter as Goneril; Francia DiMase and Jen Dede as Regan; Rebecca Mozo and Tessa Thompson as Cordelia; Ramon De Ocampo and John Sloan as Edgar; Daniel Bess and Seamus Dever as Edmund; JD Cullum and Stephen Caffrey as the Fool; Robert Pine and Norman Snow as Gloucester; Morlan Higgins and Gregory Itzin as Kent; Kevin Daniels and Adrian Latourelle as Cornwall; and John DeMita and Thomas Vincent Kelly as Albany. Rounding out the cast are Adam Meyer, Brett Colbeth, Gabriel Diani, Jeff Doba, Drew Doyle, Jeff Gardner, Bruce Green, Jason Henning, John Francis O’Brien, Renata Plecha, Jeremy Shouldis and Paige Wilson.

A multiple award-winning director, DeLorenzo is working with Antaeus for the first time. “This is an opportunity to explore one of the world’s great plays with a company of actors who can do the work justice,” he says.

Adds Hackett, “Antaeus is unique because we do weeks, months, sometimes years of exploratory work on a single play before even beginning to rehearse. It’s a very intensive and in-depth process, and perhaps one of the reasons that many of our productions are so successful.”

Set Design for King Lear is by Tom Buderwitz; Lighting Design is by Lap Chi Chu; Costume Design is by A. Jeffrey Schoenberg; Sound Design is by John Zalewski; Prop Design is by Jen Prince; Production Stage Manager is Deirdre Murphy; and Young Ji produces.

Bart DeLorenzo is founding Artistic Director of the Evidence Room in Los Angeles where he has directed many plays over the last 15 years including local and world premieres by Charles Mee, David Greenspan, Kelly Stuart, Philip K. Dick, Gordon Dahlquist, Martin Crimp, David Edgar, Naomi Wallace, and Edward Bond, as well as his own adaptation of Dickens’ Hard Times, Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, and Schiller’s Don Carlos, among many others. His recent freelance work includes the world premieres of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Doctor Cerberus and Donald Margulies’ Shipwrecked! An Entertainment at South Coast Repertory (later revived at the Geffen Playhouse); the world premiere of Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress at the Geffen; Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone at South Coast Rep; Racine’s Britannicus at Cal Rep; and Around the World in 80 Days at the Cleveland Playhouse. Most recently, he directed Charles Mee’s bobrauschenbergamerica for TheSpyAnts at Inside the Ford, Adam Bock’s The Receptionist and Caryl Churchill’s A Number at the Odyssey, and the world premieres of Justin Tanner’s Voice Lessons at the Zephyr, and Michael Sargent’s The Projectionist at the Kirk Douglas. For his work, he has received five LA Weekly awards and three Back Stage Garlands.

The Antaeus Company, L.A.’s classical theater ensemble, has a 19-year history of providing quality classical theater in Los Angeles. Through productions, readings and workshops; through educational outreach to the community; and through acting training programs for young professionals, the Antaeus mission remains steadfast and simple: to keep classical theater vibrantly alive in ourselves and in our community. Members of the company and its board span a wide range of age, ethnicity and experience; they have performed on Broadway, at major regional theaters across the country, in film and television, and on local stages, and are the recipients of multiple accolades including Tony, Los Angeles and New York Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, LA Weekly, and Back Stage Garland nominations and awards.

King Lear is the centerpiece of The Antaeus Company’s 5th biennial ClassicsFest. Beginning July 6 and continuing for six weeks through August 15, ClassicsFest offers an invigorating “summer splash” of actor-initiated workshops, readings, and special events on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons, including Peace In Our Time by Noël Coward; Les Femmes Savantes by Molière; Puntila and Matti by Bertolt Brecht; The Helen Fragments by Euripides and others; Les Blancs by Lorraine Hansberry; Arcadia by Tom Stoppard; The Malcontent by John Marston; Juno and the Paycock by Sean O’Casey; The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare; Faith Healer by Brian Friel; and The Capulets and Montagues by Lope de Vega.  The Festival features over 100 actors, and all readings and workshops have a very accessible $10 ticket price.

King Lear has two openings, each with a different cast, on Saturday, June 26 at 8 pm and Sunday, June 27 at 4 pm. Performances continue through August 8 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm. There will be one Thursday performance on July 1 at 8 pm, and no 7:30 pm performance on Sunday, July 4. Previews take place Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 pm, June 12 through June 25. Tickets range from $30.00 – $34.00 except Opening Nights which are $75.00 and previews which are $20.00. The Antaeus Company’s interim home is located in Deaf West Theatre, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601 (in the NoHo Arts District). For reservations and information, call (818) 506-1983 or visit online at


King Lear – The Antaeus Company, L.A.’s classical theater ensemble, presents its first full production of a Shakespeare play, the second offering of the troupe’s inaugural subscription season and the opening of ClassicsFest 2010. This timeless masterpiece of domestic tragedy is a tale of fathers and their unloved sons and daughters, of catastrophic change, and of the individual at the mercy of a hostile world. Bart DeLorenzo directs renowned scholar, actor and Antaeus founding artistic director Dakin Matthews and Broadway veteran/three-time Tony nominee Harry Groener, who are double cast in the title role.

Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Bart DeLorenzo
Ensemble: Daniel Bess, Stephen Caffrey, JD Cullum, Kevin Daniels, Ramon DeOcampo, Jen Dede, John DeMita, Francia DiMase, Allegra Fulton, Harry Groener, Morlan Higgins, Gregory Itzin, Thomas Vincent Kelly, Adrian Latourelle, Dakin Matthews, Rebecca Mozo, Robert Pine, Kirsten Potter, John Sloan, Norman Snow, Tessa Thompson
Also featuring: Adam Meyer, Brett Colbeth, Gabriel Diani, Jeff Doba, Drew Doyle, Jeff Gardner, Bruce Green, Jason Henning, John Francis O’Brien, Renata Plecha, Jeremy Shouldis Paige Wilson

Previews: June 12 – June 25
Performances: June 26 – August 8
Tuesdays at 8 pm: June 15, 22 (previews)
Wednesdays at 8 pm: June 16, 23 (previews)
Thursdays at 8 pm: June 17, 24 (previews); July 1
Fridays at 8 pm: June 18, 25 (previews); July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; August 6
Saturdays at 8 pm: June 12, 19 (previews); June 26 (Opening); July 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; August 7
Sundays at 4 pm: June 13, 20 (previews); 27 (Opening)
Sundays at 2:30 pm: July 4, 11, 18, 25; August 1, 8
Sundays at 7:30 pm: July 11, 18, 25; August 1, 8 (dark July 4)

Deaf West Theatre
5112 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood CA 91601
(one block south of Magnolia – ample street parking)

(818) 506-1983 or

Opening Nights* (June 26 & 27): $75
Thursday, Friday and Sunday night: $30
Saturday night and Sunday matinee: $34
Previews: $20
ClassicsFest Workshops and Readings: $10

*Antaeus has two opening nights, as all productions are fully double-cast.


Guest Moderators Announced for the Shakespeare Workout

The Antaeus Academy announces our Guest Moderators for the


Experience the challenges and rewards of playing Shakespeare in sessions moderated by a rotating group of L.A.’s top actors, directors and acting teachers. Now an ongoing, year-round program, SW features a different guest moderator every month. Actors new to the workshop commit to an initial 12-week session; returning actors may join the workshop on a by-the-month basis. Open to actors of all ages and levels of experience, the workout focuses on text analysis, monologue and scene work.
Meets Tuesdays 2 – 5 pm, beginning February 9th
Class fee, new actors: $570 for initial 12 week session or $500 early bird discount!
Class fee, returning actors: $140 per month
Class size: 16 – 20 actors per class
Open to actors of all ages

February ~ LISA WOLPE

“Undiscovered Country: Hamlet”

This workshop, focusing on selected texts from Hamlet, will explore methods of enhancing the classical actor’s range, depth and scope onstage. Using Elizabethan Cosmology, Folio Clues, “Geography of Thought”, and the Actor/Audience relationship, I will assist the willing actor in finding new ways of playing through great monologues and scenes from this familiar and monumental work.
Here are some practical, helpful tools for playing Shakespeare with more presence, more intellectual clarity, more focused inquiry and more persuasive argument in expressing the “Soul” of the play.
If you’d like to bring ten to twenty lines of any character’s text, memorized, from the play Hamlet for the first meeting, please do; other scenes will be assigned, and group discussion, exercises and master class-style lessons on unpacking and embodying the text will ensure that everyone participates at every meeting.

Lisa Wolpe is an actress, director, teacher and producer. She is the Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company, an award-winning all-female, multi-cultural theater company that she founded in 1993. L.A. Magazine has called seeing the LAWSC “one of the ten coolest things to do in Los Angeles” Ms. Wolpe recently produced, directed and played Iago in Othello at the Theatre @ Boston Court; other favorites include Richard III, Hamlet, Romeo, Henry V, and more. She and received the LA Drama Critics Circle Award for Sustained Excellence in 2008, and the company has been featured on PBS, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and London’s International News.
February 9 (11am-5pm)
February 16th (2-5pm)
February 22nd (2-5pm)



Antaeus: TONIGHT AT 8:30 and several CLASSICSFESTs, among others.  Broadway:THREE PENNY OPERA; ST. JOAN, BROADWAY and I REMEMBER MAMA. Regional Theater: San Diego Repertory Theater, San Diego Globe, American Shakespeare Festival, Indiana Repertory Theatre, and the Guthrie Theatre.  Los Angeles Theater – (selected list) Matrix Theater: Birthday Party (LA Drama Critic’s Circle Nom. Lead Performance), LATC, Odyssey Theatre, and the Mark Taper Forum.  TV: 100 different TV shows including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Boston Legal,” and series regular Quark on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”. Voice-overs: (selected list) “Adventures of Billy and Mandy,” “Evil Con Carne,” “Underfist,” “Bioshock,” “Green Goblin” for Marvel, Toad for the “X-men” game.  As an educator, he has taught Shakespearian scholarship at theTheatricum Botanicum, the Tyrone Guthrie Theater, the College of Idaho, UCLA’s Performing Arts Camp, Claremont College,and forAntaeus. He is a three time published novelist for Simon and Schuster, and has directed several of Shakespeare’s plays at several theaters in Los Angeles.
March 1st (2-5pm)
March 8th (2-5pm)
March 15th (2-5pm)
March 22nd (2-5pm)
Make-up date or extra workshop: March 29th (2-5pm)


Creating a Character Through Text & Violence

As a fight director for the past 35 years, Steve Rankin has staged fights all over the US, Canada, London and Australia. His Broadway credits include the new hit musical Memphis as well as all of the productions worldwide of Jersey Boys. Plus Guys and Dolls, The Farnsworth Invention, The Who’s Tommy, Dracula, Two Shakespearean Actors, Getting Away With Murder, Anna Christie, Twelfth Night, The Real Inspector Hound and  Henry IV Parts I & II at Lincoln Center. Off Broadway credits include: The Third Story, Pig Farm, Below the Belt, The Night Hank Williams Died. Mr. Rankin is an Associate Artist of the Old Globe Theater as an actor and Fight Director.
April 6th (2-5pm)
April 13th (2-5pm)
April 20th (2-5pm)

April 27th (2-5pm)

Email your headshot/resume today ~ auditions by appointment only

Space limited but still available–email

Huge Strides for ShakesAlive!

Arts Education and Outreach programs bring our ensemble members into the classroom to make Shakespearean text accessible, fun and relevant to students’ lives. Through ShakesAlive!, we work with educators to develop culturally specific programs that move from Euro-centric to multi-centric and we give Los Angeles area students the opportunity to revel in both familiar and undiscovered classic gems of all cultures.

Returning to William Tell Aggeler Opportunity School this Winter for Project 29: partnering at-risk youth with Shakespeare’s at-risk characters.  Also returning to Cleveland HS in the spring!

Antaeus was recently granted a new way for schools to find us — a listing on the LA County Arts For All Website – these listings were VERY competitive and we are now part of Los Angeles County’s first interactive website that supports the arts education needs of educators, community stakeholders and policy makers by providing centralized access to the tools and information necessary to achieve sequential K-12 arts education.
Our Arts Ed Department also now partners with Center Theatre Group on their Annenberg Middle School Program. This is a new pilot, a 3-year action research program that will lead students through a playwriting residency with professional readings by actors from local theatre companies, mirroring the actual playwriting process. The goal is to improve and inspire students’ language and creative thinking skills, leading to student achievement in Language Arts.
As part of our planned expansion in 2010, we held the first of a series of Teaching Artist Training Workshops last October. See a snippet here!
Stay tuned ~ our Shakespeare Monologue Competition also returns in 2010!

Antaeus Diary: Gregory Itzin on KING LEAR

For the last several months, Antaeus Shakespeare Thursdays have been focused on KING LEAR. While not officially billed as preparation for our Summer 2010 production of KING LEAR, having the chance to delve deeply into the text will only enrich our work when it comes time to mount the play.

Ensemble company member Gregory Itzin initiated the LEAR sessions, which began with a full down & dirty reading of the play. After that, we spent each LEAR night combing through the text, inch by inch, exploring, debating, laughing and – often – surprising ourselves with where the discussions led. Now that the process is coming to a close tonight with our last LEAR session, I asked Greg to lay down some candid thoughts about the journey…which in turn yield some interesting insights into the Antaean process.


At the beginning of the process of working on Lear I felt that I/we could be on a bit of a mission. This is, after all, a classical company, and as I said in an opening email salvo in a looonnnnng missive about “mission statement” and objectives (not always realized but I have always enjoyed where it has gone week by week), a Classical Company SHOULD be working on arguably THE master theatrical work in the English language. I wanted to dig deep, as deep as time and inclination and focus and ability would allow, and I figured the Antaeus crowd was just the group to tackle it.

The first hurdle, and perhaps the toughest one to clear, was casting the first, cold, reading. The personnel shifted right up to the evening of the event, and, as I recall, some people were pressed into service with little or no prep. But the first night’s reading went swimmingly, perhaps as well or better than could have been hoped for, and everyone seemed energized by the outing.

Since then, in a way, it has been harder to muster the kind of, oh, let us say drive and ego excitement that a “performance” has built-in, because everyone likes to do their work for an audience. “Just” coming and doing text work, with no immediate production in mind, made it a bit more difficult to excite people into showing up and participating.

Also, I think people thought that they could come and would come later, or somewhere along the way, and many did make it a sporadic habit. But after you miss X amount of the event, I think it gets harder to make yourself come. “They’ll be so far ahead of me.” “I don’t want to feel I am coming late to the party.” This and time and schedules that are all over the map: it is a company of, hopefully, working actors after all.

BUT every week yielded some tremendously valuable or at least scintillating information, many things were learned, and, fortunately, the presence of always a core contingency kept the momentum going forward. Also, the fact that Dakin [Matthews] came in with his wealth of knowledge and his experience with the play itself was a joyous addition to the goings on. Armin [Shimerman] and Peter Van Norden’s presences in the early goings were a steadying, insightful help, as they have invaluable experience with the piece and definite opinions about how to skin the cat. Everybody’s input and curiousity and enthusiasm and talent and expertise as Shakespearean actors and just plain actors was a joy to behold. This is quite a bunch.

SO we learned a lot, or talked a lot, uncovered many approaches to many characters. How much of this will stay in the brain pan remains to be seen, but a worthier undertaking I cannot quite imagine. It was always a place to go to do something different than anything else I was/am doing with my life. AND working on something I love in a way I love is pretty damn special.

So I thank one and all for being excited by the project and for the approbation I received, since I am writing this, after all. I hope, and I sense it was, a worthwhile use of your talent and time.

Sincerely, and with love and respect,
Gregory Itzin