Shakespeare's King Lear is not a "new" work, but the event — part lecture, part walking tour of Lear's kingdom, part storytelling in verse — is a new approach to a classic.
Krebs, 62, told Playbill.com Considering Lear will clarify the text for those (young and old) daunted by the expanse of the Shakespeare tragedy. He expects the free show to be "loose," "casual" and "a lot of fun." Got a question? Raise your hand in the auditorium.
"Stick with me an hour and 15 minutes, and you will have the play for life," Krebs said, adding that there is no set or other design elements in this Off-Off-Broadway work in progress.
Tickets are free for the work, at the 99-seat 45th Street Theatre. Krebs has the theatre's lease and produces eclectic work there (most recently, My Secret Garden). Krebs, known as a commercial theatrical producer on and off Broadway for over 35 years (Little Ham, Electra, Golf the Musical, It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues), was a longtime professor of theatre at Rutgers University (he's also an undergrad and graduate alumnus) and currently teaches at Baruch College of the City University of New York.
"I have developed a method of giving a play to students within the 75-minute confines of a college class period," Krebs said in a statement. "For years I have wondered how this approach would work for general audiences. Now I will take my life in my hands and find out."
He explained in production notes, "Many people are afraid of King Lear and Shakespeare in general. The language and the context of the action have become somewhat difficult for the modern, untrained ear, especially for students. Many of those in my classes are immigrants or the children of recent immigrants, so Shakespeare presents a particular challenge. My presentation is a way of making the magnificent King Lear accessible to the Shakespearean novice."
Lear admitted to Playbill.com, "I wanted to do something that would test me to the max. I feel an affinity for Lear's blindness to himself — and I wanted to know the play better."
The first Lear he saw? He was 15 and Morris Carnovsky was playing the mad king in Stratford, CT. "I will never forget it," he said. "I still see it."
Considering Lear, conceived and performed by Krebs and produced by Vanity Productions and Eric Krebs, will play April 3-8, Tuesday through Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 3 and 8 PM and Sunday at 3 PM.
All tickets are free. Reservations may be made at (212) 967-7079 or Jason@ektminc.com.
The 45th Street Theater is located at 354 West 45th Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.
On Broadway Eric Krebs has produced the Tony-nominated productions of Bill Maher: Victory Begins at Home, It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues and Zoë Wanamaker in Electra. Off-Broadway, he has produced over 100 shows including bash by Neil Labute, This Is Our Youth by Kenneth Lonergan, The Capitol Steps and the musical Little Ham.