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New Site-Specific Show Envisions King Lear in Dumpster Behind Adams

Hard to imagine grasping the themes of King Lear while not smelling rotten eggs.
CAMBRIDGE,MA- This Thursday, the Harvard Radcliffe Dramatic Club announced an exciting, experimental addition to its spring Season: a production of King Lear that takes place entirely inside the dumpster behind Claverly Hall. 

Lear is a story about the filthy world of politics,” said director Liam Reynolds. “That’s why in our production, we immerse the audience in a space that confronts them with the filth of human greed, murder, and soggy Domino’s boxes.”

Finding the right kind of space to stage this experimental rendition posed a challenge to the creative team. According to dramaturg Conner Saige, “We searched many different options to find an environment that exudes trash (the Pudding House, the Signet, the Lampoon castle, etc.), but we eventually landed on the classic metal dumpster near the Adams senior house.”

Still, the show has received numerous criticisms for being “nausea-inducing,” “a safety hazard,” and “dragging a little bit during the fourth act.” According to one actor, “I felt pretty disrespected when the director asked me to cover myself in muck, but then I noticed his thick-rimmed glasses and corduroy vest and remembered how lucky I was to work under such a brilliant man.”

“Indeed, the most important rule of the theatre is adaptability,” said Reynolds. “I expect my actors to give their energy–nay, their personal wellbeing to the art no matter where the muse takes us. That’s why when I discovered that our space was also home to a family of rabid raccoons, I put on my thinking cap (a flat cap, in fact) and did the only rational thing: fired two of my actresses and cast the raccoons as Regan and Goneril. They bring a real foaming-at-the-mouth energy to the warring sisters!”
The unconventional space has also led to unconventional props, said Saige. “To keep with the aesthetic, we’ve replaced swords with broken beer bottles, Gloucester's eyes with spoiled grapes, and the Fool’s balloon animals with these slimy rubber socks we found scattered around.
Previews have already garnered strong reactions. According to the Crimson review, “It was very a unpleasant experience and I had no understanding of what was going on, which in theater terms means it it was great. Five stars!”

The play opens up this Friday and seating is limited to the five carboard boxes next to the dumpster.
Image credit: NY Times
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