A modernized version of King Lear called Lear Inc. will be held in the main atrium of KPU’s Surrey campus on March 28 and 29. The performances are adapted from Act I, Scene I of Shakespeare’s play, and will be entirely free to the public.
The group behind Lear Inc., 1001 Steps Theatre Company, took a modern spin on a classic play in order to explore “the uses and abuses of power,” as well as family relationships and “how they fall apart,” according to KPU English instructor Fred Ribkoff.
Ribkoff, who is one of the primary organizers of 1001 Steps, will be playing Lear in the upcoming performances opposite his colleague in the English department, Paul Tyndall. Tyndall and Ribkoff worked together to update Shakespeare’s drama for the modern age.
“I’ve wanted to do the play for a long time,” says Ribkoff, who adds that he wrote about King Lear for his PhD. He describes the opening scene of King Lear, and thus of Lear Inc., as “a climatic, sort of cataclysmic scene,” which he says makes it “a piece unto itself.”
After the initial performances this week, he plans to continue Lear Inc. into the summer as a full-length adaptation.
The performers, as well as director Danielle Cornes, have met multiple times a week since January in preparation for the late March showing. The script, auditions, and other preparations, however, were finished long before then.
“The cast and crew are all KPU students [and] faculty, and then there’s people from the outside too, people from Douglas College and people from all over Vancouver who were involved,” says Ribkoff.
“It was a really great learning experience. It’s really helped me in my confidence and in my abilities,” says Chantele Franz, who created the graphics for the performance. “I jumped on board and I was really happy to do so.”
For those interested in attending, the first performance will take place on March 28 at 12:00 pm and the second will start at 7:00 pm the following day. There will be plenty of seating available and the performance can even be viewed from the upper floor of the atrium.
“Anybody can walk into the atrium at anytime, and it is free,” says Ribkoff.