Anathan Theatre prepares murderously fun Shakespeare for November

Photo by Rachael Patin

Estelle Mandeville
Staff Writer

“There is no greater text to direct than the plays of Shakespeare and no greater plays to act,” said the director of Anathan Theatre’s fall mainstage.

Monica Anderson, who holds a doctorate in theater, said, “It is my hope that our production will be fast-paced and dynamic, thought-provoking and engaging. Richard of Gloucester, later (called) King Richard, is one of Shakespeare’s most intriguing characters. From the very beginning of the play, he shares with the audience his plans, and at times, we can’t help but find him charming and amusing. We also balk at what we see him willing to do to gain the throne.”

“The Tragedy of Richard III” is based off of the English War of the Roses, which grew out of conflict between the Houses of York and Lancaster in the 15th century.

Playing the titular character, senior Michael Lamontagne said, “Richard, Duke of Gloucester, is fed up with how he has been treated, is unhappy with his life and decides to use manipulation and murder to make his way to the throne.”

Lamontagne said that preparing for this play has been different for him than with past roles.

“Because it’s Shakespeare, we’ve gotten rid of our scripts pretty quickly. … It’s mainly working with the text rather than working with the blocking.”

Lamontagne also said, “(Shakespeare’s) language controls so much of the emotion and the rhythm of the scenes and the pacing.”

In order to delve into the language, the actors are “trying to figure out what was the intention of every single line, what was the intention of the words, why is this person using (this) many vowels in sequence?” Lamontagne said.

Lamontagne said he has enjoyed playing Richard III so far.

“This is the one character who knows he’s scary, who knows he’s evil and embraces it. At the very beginning of the play, he tells the audience ‘Hey, this is what I’m going to do. Join me. Come along for the ride. This is going to be fun!’” Lamontagne said. “(Richard) plays all different facets and all different ways of doing things. He plays different sides. … Sin builds upon sin. Once you think, ‘Oh! That’s the worst thing this character could do,’ he tops it, and it just keeps going like that.”

Lamontagne said, “For me, it’s a really interesting show because it shows how much evil one man can do and how much self-hatred … does not just affect the individual who hates (himself). It hurts everyone. Richard III, I think, is the extreme of that.”

According to Anderson, “Richard III” is about conscience.

“Shakespeare’s plays are so rich that different productions can emphasize different themes, but I see the play as a play about conscience,” said Anderson. “Late in the play, Richard says to his troops heading into battle, ‘Conscience is a word that cowards use.’”

“This play, which features the wives, mothers and children of the men who go to war, provokes thought about the violence and death done in the pursuit of power and the ugly consequences of that destruction. We see the impact of the violence of these power struggles on the families of the men who do battle, and we also see the impact of that violence on the souls of those who inflict it.”

According to @anathantheatre on Instagram, the mainstage’s set and lighting are in the final stages of being designed and built.

Anderson said, “The production is coming together well, but it’s a lot of work and a lot of moving parts to coordinate, from the staging and acting to the stage combat and live music. I have been blessed with a hardworking production team, and we look forward to bringing to Anathan Theatre one of Shakespeare’s most entertaining plays.”

“Richard III” will be performed Nov. 4-6 and 11-13 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 7 and 14 at 2 p.m.