Written by Charissa Roberson
On March 19, Roanoke College welcomed a quintet of British artists with Actors From The London Stage (AFTLS) for a magnificent performance of “King Lear,” one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated tragedies. Using a bare stage, minimal props, and inventive double casting, the five actors presented the complex and harrowing tale with formidable energy and talent.
“It gets to the root of theatre,” said junior Emma Daisey, “because it’s so minimalistic.”
Several audience members commented on the resourceful ways the actors manipulated their few props to great artistic and emotional effect. In addition, each actor played multiple roles—often within the same scene.
“The double casting of the two sons—hilarious,” said freshman Claire McDonald. “It adds a layer of comedy, which is nice because [the play] is so serious.” AFTLS is a program dedicated to education through entertainment.
Five actors, from various prestigious theatre companies in the United Kingdom, provide students with the opportunity to watch high-quality performances and to learn from workshops, lectures, and other discussions which the actors facilitate. While AFTLS visited Roanoke, several classes enjoyed sessions with the actors, and a packed house in Olin Theatre witnessed their Tuesday performance.
“[The production} is beautiful but also heartbreaking,” said Dr. Nelson, assistant professor of Fine Arts. “It’s tremendous to see the amount of entertainment that can be gotten out of a tragedy.”