BOX OFFICE 610.644.3500

Richard III

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Samantha Reading
March 16-April 24, 2016
Steinbright Stage

Experience Shakespeare’s master manipulator up close as he tricks, seduces, and murders his way to the throne of England! On our intimate Steinbright stage, we crack open this chronicle of corruption with Pete Pryor as the twisted and charismatic Richard of Gloucester. No family or friend is safe from this diabolical villain you will love to hate.

Approximate run time is 2 hours and 30 minutes including one 15 minute intermission. Best enjoyed by ages 12+

Scoop on Wednesdays: History, Context, and Gossip

Join us for a lively discussion before Wednesday 7:30pm performances. Resident Dramaturg Gina Pisasale will host an artist from the production and get the inside scoop about such things as the rehearsal and production process, design choices, and the world of the play. The program begins at 6pm in The Farmhouse Bistro on March 23, April 13, and April 20. Cost of $15 includes light fare. Call the Box Office at 610.644.3500.

Dinner & A Show Packages

Enjoy a prix fixe dinner and a show package for $73 (Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday matinee, Sunday evening) and $82 (Friday, Saturday evening, Sunday matinee) at The Farmhouse Bistro prior to the Wed-Sun evening performances. That's a savings of up to 15% off the single ticket price. Click here to view the menu.

Margaret/Edward/Ensemble
Alda Cortese*

Elizabeth/Tyrell/Ensemble
Mary Elizabeth Scallen*

Richard
Pete Pryor*

Stanley/Clarence/Ensemble
Stephen Novelli*

Hastings/2nd Murderer/Duchess of York/Ensemble
Peter DeLaurier*

Buckingham/Ensemble
Christopher Patrick Mullen*

Lady Anne/Young Edward/Ensemble
Margaret Ivey*

Richmond/Catesby/Rivers/Ensemble
Carl Clemons-Hopkins*

York/Ratcliffe/1st Murderer/Ensemble
Christopher R. Brown

Director: Samantha Reading
Set Design: Jorge Cousineau
Costume Designer: Rosemarie McKelvey
Lighting Designer: Maria Shaplin
Sound Designer: Jorge Cousineau
Production Stage Manager: Jason Pizzi*
Dramaturgs: Geoff Proehl and Gina Pisasale
Line Producer: Abigail Adams


* Member, Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers.



Explore RICHARD III


JUMP TO:
HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS PRODUCTION
THEMES OF THE PLAY
WHY IS PEOPLE'S LIGHT DOING THIS PLAY?
DIRECTOR STATEMENT
THE STORY
THE PLAYWRIGHT



HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS PRODUCTION

  • Company Member Pete Pryor stars as Richard III.
  • Small, versatile cast will make for thrilling theatricality among the performers, and offer audiences a visceral intimacy with the play and the actors.
  • Mesmerizing Machiavellian character at the center of the story. Audiences have historically been drawn in and won over by his gleefulness, slyly dark humor, brilliance, wit, and confidence, despite knowing his bloody intentions.
  • Strong women in this play who speak their mind despite the potential dangers in doing so.
  • Hugely popular and influential play. Its 8 different quarto editions printed between 1597 and 1634, in addition to the First Folio of 1623, suggest that London’s printers were attempting to keep up with popular demand. Popular knowledge that has been passed through the ages about Richard III comes not from history books, but from Shakespeare’s play, signaling the triumph of theater over history.
  • Who doesn’t love a great sequel? This play is the sequel to an extraordinarily successful trilogy (Richard II, the Henriad [Henry IV parts 1&2 and Henry V], and Henry VI parts 1-3) that brings us the magnificent culmination to the Wars of the Roses.



THEMES OF THE PLAY

  • Is evil inherent in some people or is evil intent a result of life experiences?
  • How easy is it for evil to manipulate, allure, and control individuals (and audiences!) so that its victims are complicit in their own destruction?
  • There is great brutality, frailty, and great cost involved in acquiring and keeping power.
  • Revenge. Violence begets more violence.
  • Moral righteousness of a political ruler has a direct bearing on the health of the state (a common theme in Shakespeare.)
  • Ability to use language as a crucial weapon of power and manipulation.



WHY IS PEOPLE'S LIGHT DOING THIS PLAY?

“It’s relevant. In this political season, this play has resonance for youth and teens, as well as our core subscribers and single ticket buyers. It gives us an opportunity to integrate Arts Discovery and Producing efforts in our signature way, as well as receive further NEA support for this effort.

“Also in either our 42nd or 43rd season we intend to launch a homegrown, new approach to Shakespeare production that is small-cast, multi-disciplinary, high access for multi-generations and diverse communities. This Richard III is not the start of this endeavor, but through this production we will learn more about Shakespeare in the Steinbright, the dynamics of doubling, and the various needs of our artists to move forward with this new phase of Shakespeare @ People’s Light.

“Further, we hope to incorporate three professional-development touchstones during the rehearsal process to build a bigger tool kit for the phased development activities that will need to take place for this new approach to flourish. This production joins Winter’s Tale in preparing both our artists and audiences for innovative productions of Shakespeare on our campus.”

Producing Director Zak Berkman



DIRECTOR STATEMENT by Samantha Reading

“Our Richard III will be a visceral, bare bones production built on the physicality of the actors. The staging will be raw and intimate. The actors will be among the audience and will speak directly to them, implicating them in the action of the play. Design will evoke the cruel, cracking, corrupt world of the play. The image of Richard III's twisted vertebrae and the sound of fractured bones juxtaposed with an unnerving sensation of diabolical joy will inspire the production choices.”



THE STORY

Plot Summary

After a long civil war between the royal family of York and the royal family of Lancaster, England enjoys a period of peace under King Edward IV and the victorious Yorks. But Edward’s younger brother, Richard, resents Edward’s power and the happiness of those around him. Malicious, power-hungry, and bitter about his physical deformity, Richard begins to aspire secretly to the throne—and decides to kill anyone he has to in order to become king.

Using his intelligence and his skills of deception and political manipulation, Richard begins his campaign for the throne. He manipulates a noblewoman, Lady Anne, into marrying him—even though she knows that he murdered her first husband. He has his own older brother, Clarence, executed, and shifts the burden of guilt onto his sick older brother King Edward in order to accelerate Edward’s illness and death. After King Edward dies, Richard becomes lord protector of England—the figure in charge until the elder of Edward’s two sons grows up.

Next Richard kills the court noblemen who are loyal to the princes, most notably Lord Hastings, the lord chamberlain of England. He then has the boys’ relatives on their mother’s side arrested and executed. With Elizabeth and the princes now unprotected, Richard has his political allies, particularly his right-hand man, Lord Buckingham, campaign to have Richard crowned king. Richard then imprisons the young princes in the Tower and, in his bloodiest move yet, sends hired murderers to kill both children.

By this time, Richard’s reign of terror has caused the common people of England to fear and loathe him, and he has alienated nearly all the noblemen of the court—even the power-hungry Buckingham. When rumors begin to circulate about a challenger to the throne who is gathering forces in France, noblemen defect in droves to join his forces. The challenger is the earl of Richmond, a descendant of a secondary arm of the Lancaster family, and England is ready to welcome him.

Richard, in the meantime, tries to consolidate his power. He has his wife, Queen Anne, murdered, so that he can marry young Elizabeth, the daughter of the former Queen Elizabeth and the dead King Edward. Though young Elizabeth is his niece, the alliance would secure his claim to the throne. Nevertheless, Richard has begun to lose control of events, and Queen Elizabeth manages to forestall him. Meanwhile, she secretly promises to marry young Elizabeth to Richmond.

Richmond finally invades England. The night before the battle that will decide everything, Richard has a terrible dream in which the ghosts of all the people he has murdered appear and curse him, telling him that he will die the next day. In the battle on the following morning, Richard is killed, and Richmond is crowned King Henry VII. Promising a new era of peace for England, the new king is betrothed to young Elizabeth in order to unite the warring houses of Lancaster and York.

Who's Who

Keeping track of the characters is especially challenging in Shakespeare’s history, because English royal families tend to re-use names generation after generation. For example, you might encounter a grandfather, father, son and grandson all named Henry.

So here we’ll try to help you get a handle on the major characters in this play, and how they’re related.

The play revolves around three brothers from the York family: Edward, Clarence and Richard. At the top of the play, Edward the eldest is king. So first, we’ll introduce the characters close to King Edward IV:

KING EDWARD, HIS WIFE AND KIDS:
King Edward IV – Edward’s family is the Yorks. They recently threw the Lancaster family off the throne of England and took power. As the eldest York son, Edward was deeply involved in that overthrow, but now he’s devoted to reconciling the various political factions of his reign.
Queen Elizabeth – Edward’s wife, also called “Lady Gray”. This is her second marriage.
Prince Edward (later King Edward V) – Their eldest son, killed by Richard’s agents in the Tower of London.
Richard, Duke of York – Their younger son, killed by Richard’s agents in the Tower of London.

KING EDWARD’S MOM AND BROTHERS:
Duchess of York – Widowed mother of the three York boys (Edward, Clarence and Richard). She is very protective of Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s kids (her grandkids). She’s deeply angry with, and eventually curses, her son Richard for his heinous actions.
George, Duke of Clarence - The gentle, trusting middle brother in the York family.
Richard (later King Richard III)—Also called “Gloucester”, the youngest, and nastiest, brother. He BADLY wants to be king.

Okay, with us so far? Now, to introduce more folks, we’ll divide them into two camps—those who want to hurt Richard and those who want to help him.

RICHARD’S ENEMIES:
Lord Rivers – Queen Elizabeth’s brother, also called “Anthony Woodeville”.
Marquess of Dorset – Elizabeth’s oldest son from her first marriage.
Lord Grey – Elizabeth’s youngest son from her first marriage.
Earl of Richmond –A member of the family that King Edward VI threw off the throne, the Lancasters. You might think Richmond would hate all Yorks as a result. But Richmond despises Richard SO much that he actually ends up helping some of the Yorks when they turn against Richard. Also called “Henry”, Richmond later becomes King Henry VII.

RICHARD’S FRIENDS:
Duke of Buckingham - Richard’s right-hand man.
Sir James Tyrrel – a hired hitman, who kills the young princes in the Tower of London.
Lady Anne – widow of another Prince Edward (the son of the former King Henry VI), she eventually marries Richard.

There are more characters that you’ll meet onstage, but this list gives you a good starting point. If you feel ambitious (like Richard?), here’s a graph that lays out the characters and their relationships in greater detail:

































THE PLAYWRIGHT

William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. From roughly 1594 onward he was an important member of a well-respected, London-based company of theatrical players. Over the course of 20 years, Shakespeare wrote plays that capture the complete range of human emotion and conflict. His works have been performed worldwide for more than 400 years. And yet, his personal history is somewhat of a mystery.

There are two primary sources that provide historians with a basic outline of Shakespeare’s life. One source is his work—the plays, poems and sonnets—and the other is official documentation such as church and court records. Scholars have surmised that he most likely attended the King's New School, in Stratford, which taught reading, writing and the classics. Being a public official's child, William would have undoubtedly qualified for free tuition. But this uncertainty regarding his education has led some to raise questions about the authorship of his work and even about whether or not Shakespeare ever existed.

Records confirm that William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway in 1582. William was 18 and Anne was 26, and, as it turns out, pregnant. Their first child, a daughter they named Susanna, was born in 1583. Two years later, twins Hamnet and Judith were born. Hamnet later died of unknown causes at age 11.

After the birth of the twins, there are seven years of Shakespeare's life where no records exist. It is generally believed he arrived in London in the mid- to late 1580s. By 1592, there’s evidence he earned a living as an actor and a playwright in London and possibly had several plays produced. At this time, documents identify him as a managing partner in The Lord Chamberlain's Men, an acting company in London. After the crowning of King James I in 1603, the company changed its name to The King's Men.

By 1597, Shakespeare had published 15 of the 37 plays he’d written. Civil records show that he purchased the second largest house in Stratford, called “New House”, for his family. By 1599, Shakespeare and his business partners built their own theater on the south bank of the Thames River, which they called “The Globe.” In 1605, Shakespeare purchased leases of real estate near Stratford for 440 pounds, which doubled in value and earned him 60 pounds a year. This made him an entrepreneur as well as an artist, and scholars believe these investments gave him the time to write his plays uninterrupted.

Over the course of his career, Shakespeare wrote 38 plays, 154 sonnets and 2 epic poems. His play The Tragedy of King Richard III was probably written in 1591 and debuted later that year. The play proved extremely popular and as a result, came up regularly in the theatre company’s repertory. In fact, it was SO popular that from 1600 on, one of the greatest English actors of the day, Richard Burbage, regularly played the role of Richard.

Tradition has it that the great poet died at the age of 52 on his birthday, April 23, 1616, though many scholars believe this is a myth. Church records show he was interred at Trinity Church on April 25, 1616.