King Lear, Starring Oscar Nominee Sam Waterston, Opens at the Public Theater Nov. 8

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08 Nov 2011

Sam Waterston
Sam Waterston
Joan Marcus

Academy Award nominee Sam Waterston stars as King Lear in the Public Theater staging of Shakespeare's tragedy about a feeble monarch attempting to weather a familial storm, officially opening Nov. 8 Off-Broadway.

James Macdonald (The Book of Grace, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You) directs the production that began previews Oct. 18 and will run through Nov. 20 in the Newman Theater.

Lear's daughters are portrayed by Tony Award nominee Kelli O'Hara (South Pacific, Light in the Piazza) as Regan, Tony nominee Enid Graham (Honour, The Constant Wife) as Goneril and Kristen Connolly (Measure for Measure, All's Well That Ends Well) as Cordelia.

Also featured are Tony Award winner Bill Irwin (The Goat, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) as the Fool, Tony Award winner Frank Wood (Side Man, Born Yesterday, August: Osage County) as Cornwall, Michael McKean (Superior Donuts, The Homecoming) as Gloucester, John Douglas Thompson (Julius Caesar, Cyrano de Bergerac) as Kent, Richard Topol (The Normal Heart) as Albany, Seth Gilliam ("Oz," "The Maids") as Edmund, Tony nominee Arian Moayed (Bengal Tiger…) as Edgar, Michael Crane (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) as Oswald, Herb Foster (The Merchant of Venice, Amy's View) as Old Man/Curan, Che Ayende (Timon of Athens) as Duke of Burgundy/Knight/Servant, Craig Bockhorn (The Seagull, On Golden Pond) as the Doctor and Michael Izquierdo (Mother Courage, The Miracle Worker) as the King of France.

"I can't even tell you what the original motive was [for wanting to do this] apart from the fact it's there, like Everest," Waterston told Playbill in a recent interview. "When you begin to work on it, you realize it is an astonishing piece of dramatic poetry and you're in the hands of a master who is right at the very peak of his powers and has such large things to say."



Waterston has had a decades-long relationship with the Public Theater. He appeared in the Public staging of Ergo in 1968 and has gone on to appear in Shakespeare in the Park productions of Hamlet, as Laertes (1972), Polonius (2008) and the title role (1975); as well as Much Ado About Nothing, Measure for Measure, Cymbeline, As You Like It, and Henry VI Part 1 and Part 2. He earned an Oscar nomination for "The Killing Fields," and is known for roles in "The Great Gatsby," "Serial Mom," "The Glass Menagerie" and his Emmy-nominated work on "Law & Order."

King Lear has scenic design by Miriam Buether, costume design by Gabriel Berry, lighting design by Christopher Akerlind and sound design by Darron L West.

According to the Public, King Lear "is one of the towering works of world literature. In no other play is Shakespeare’s tragic vision more terrifyingly clear – and nowhere in his canon does he create a richer or more complex set of characters. When King Lear divides his kingdom among his three daughters, he sets in motion a cascade of violence that sweeps the civilized world to the brink of chaos, and Lear to the edge of madness."

Read Playbill.com's feature on Bill Irwin, who discusses the history and mystery of the character of The Fool.

For tickets and more information, phone (212) 967-7555 or visit PublicTheater. The Public Theater is located at 425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan.