Austin Pendleton, the award-winning actor/writer/director currently starring in “The Minutes” on Broadway, will direct a reading of “King Lear” at the AMT Theater May 1st, 6pm. The reading stars Charles E. Gerber as Lear and is produced by The Workshop Theater as part of its annual “Will-A-Thon” celebrating the week of Shakespeare’s birthday. It will be presented at AMT, 354 West 45th Street.
King Lear holds a special place in Pendleton’s heart. “Directing King Lear just attracts me. PLAYING King Lear attracts me (I’ve done it twice, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat). I directed Lear once before, at the theater Olympia Dukakis ran in Montclair, N.J., called The Whole Theatre Company. Louis Zorich (Olympia’s husband, a great actor) played Lear. Phillip Seymour Hoffman played Edgar. This was in 1990, and we set the play in 1990. It was a wild, exciting ride. The two most brilliantly directed Lears I’ve ever seen were by Peter Brook, in 1964, at Lincoln Center, with Paul Scofield and Irene Worth (don’t watch the movie of it: Brook was not really a film director), and by Sam Gold, just a couple years ago, on Broadway, with Glenda Jackson. Brilliantly staged, I think, and thrilling acted by everybody on board. But many King Lears I’ve seen have been excitingly directed. The play just gets you going as a director. No play in the world is structured like Lear. Of course, you have to have a great actor playing Lear. And Charles Gerber, who we have in this reading, is a great actor.”
Charles E. Gerber has been doing Shakespeare roles at The Workshop Theater since its inception in 1994. He’s played just about every major role in the Shakespeare canon and he looks forward to the challenge of Lear. “Having studied and been privileged to play these characters before live audiences in this town over the past 30 years or so, a certain foundation has been laid for me as an actor, in hopes of having the necessary experience, craft, and warranted confidence, that approaching the role of Lear is not merely the folly of unbridled chutzpah. STILL, this guy is a BEAR! In terms of emotional demands, I’ve thus far discovered him to be most similar to Shylock in relation to, frankly, his RELATIONS. Jessica, the daughter’s betrayal to the Jew stings just as deeply as Goneril and Regan’s to the king. However, in comparison of text length and sustained vocal demands, Shylock, as my classmate, the renown Sam Tsoutsouvas has assessed, is relatively, “a walk in the park!”
Thomas Cote is Artistic Director of The Workshop Theater and he looks forward to presenting Lear in front of a live audience. “Obviously, we’re thrilled with the chance to return to live programming. We’re busy making plans to bring our signature programs – Words Matter and Workshop Labs – back to in-person gatherings beginning in fall of 2022, and hope to have a full production next year, as well.”
For more information, contact The Workshop Theater
354 West 45th Street
917 388 2630
Photos: GERRY GOODSTEIN unless otherwise noted