Houston Shakespeare Festival founder and producing director Sidney Berger has announced the lineup for the festival's 24th season: King Lear and Two Gentlemen of Verona.
The searing tragedy and the giddy comedy will run in repertory July 31-Aug. 15 at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park.
"I chose King Lear because I think that periodically we have to be certain we don't back away from the masterpieces," said Berger, who will direct the play "not in the contemporary world, not in a historic world, but in a devised world."
"And right now it's within our reach because we can get the cast right," he added. Berger was referring to Charles Krohn, who will portray Lear. Berger first approached Krohn, a member of the Alley Theatre resident acting company, after seeing him last year at the Alley in a secondary role as a flawed patriarch in The Greeks. Coincidentally, King Lear had been on Krohn's mind too. "I guess great minds think alike," joked Berger.
Berger chose Two Gentlemen of Verona after being inspired by the recent London Globe production at the New Victory Theatre in New York. "I was really turned on by its energy. There was a whole new fresh look to it." Rutherford Cravens, a longtime member of Houston Shakespeare Festival and the founder of Shakespeare Outreach, an educational program for children, will direct Two Gentleman. The show will be set in the 1960s. (Is that progressive or retro?)
There is no admission charge to either play. Houston Shakespeare Festival is located at the University of Houston School of Theatre. For information, call 1-713-743-3003 for information.
-- By Peter Szatmary