December 22, 2014  

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Southern Miss Theatre Bringing King Lear to Stage

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Southern Miss theatre students Shelley Johnson, left, and Rebecca Yeager, center, along with guest artist Mark Kincaid rehearse a scene for an upcoming performance at the university of William Shakespeare’s King Lear.

The University of Southern Mississippi Department of Theatre and Dance is set to present William Shakespeare’s powerful tragedy King Lear to audiences beginning Oct. 14, with a renowned classical actor performing in its lead role.

Guest artist Mark Kincaid with the Actors’ Equity Association has worked at major theatres across the country, and has shared the finer points of his craft with the Southern Miss students performing in the play while also preparing for one of the more coveted roles of the stage.

“Working alongside a well-respected professional like Mark from the classic theatre arena has been very rewarding in rehearsal for our students and everyone involved in this effort,” said Lou Rackoff, chairman of the Department of Theatre and Dance and director for the show. “I know the production will be exciting in performance.”

King Learis the story of an aging, stubborn monarch who decides to divide his riches amongst his three daughters based on which is most convincing in their love for him.Daughters Goneril and Regan express love for their father, but later treat him cruelly. His loyal and unselfish daughter, Cordelia, is disowned by Lear after he mistakes her honesty for arrogance. The play concludes with King Lear dying a broken man, along with Cordelia.

For eight seasons, Kincaid worked under Rackoff’s direction at The North Carolina Shakespeare Festival playing a variety of roles, including: Prospero in The Tempest; Macbeth in Macbeth; Cyrano In Cyrano De Bergerac; Hotspur inHenry IV Part 1; Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor; Antipholus of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors; Benedick inMuch Ado About Nothng; and VershinininThe Three Sisters.

A resident of Atlanta, his work has been seen on the stages of The Alliance Theatre, The Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Theatre in The Square, Georgia Ensemble Theatre, Theatrical Outfit, The Horizon Theatre,The Aurora Theatre and Actors Express.

Nationally, Kincaid has worked at The Old Globe Theatre, The McCarter Theatre, Peoples Light and Theatre Company, Mill Mountain Stage, Hope Summer Repertory, and The Hippodrome State Theatre.  He has twice toured the nation with John Houseman’s “The Acting Company.”

As much as he’s excited about bringing one of Shakespeare’s most famous characters to life, Kincaid is equally energized by his work to help the students in the cast hone their craft. “It’s also a teaching and learning experience for me, as these students learn by my example but also in one-on-one work,” he said. “They’re passionate and ready for this exciting adventure.”

Asked to sum up the essence of King Lear, Kincaid said “It’s about a lot of things, but mainly about getting older and facing your mortality, looking square in the eye of the end of your life.”

Shelley Johnson of Atlanta, a master of fine arts student at Southern Miss, concurs with Kincaid. She said the play also captures the dynamics of the human experience through dynamic characters, typical of all of the author's works. “That’s the beauty of Shakespeare. The themes of his works remain relevant to the challenges we face today, topics that make up conversations around any kitchen table,” she said.

Rebecca Yeager, a master of fine arts student from Birmingham, Ala. who plays the role of the Fool, said “I’m excited about getting on the set and getting in costume. It’s great to add the technical elements to the language and see it realized.”

Other Southern Miss theatre faculty members assisting with the play include Stephen Judd (set design), Murell Horton (costume design), Craig Dettmann (lighting and sound design) and Sean Boyd (fight director). Southern Miss senior Cordie Nelson is serving as Production Stage Manager.

King Learwill be on the main stage at the Martha R. Tatum Theatre on the Hattiesburg campus Oct. 14,15,18,19, 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m.; and Oct. 16 and 23 at 2 p.m. Reserved seats are $12 and $10 for the general public, Southern Miss faculty and staff, seniors and military; and $6 for students. Shows during fall break Oct. 14-16 are $2 off.

To purchase tickets in advance, call 601.266.5418 or 1.800.844.8425 or online, visit www.southermisstickets.com. For more information about the Southern Miss Department of Theatre and Dance, online visit http://www.usm.edu/theatre/