by William Shakespeare
Directed Lesley Schisgall Currier
There's a saying among Shakespeare theatres that if you really don't want to sell tickets to a play, do KING JOHN. Easily one of the least produced of Shakespeare's plays, a minor history, with a main character who is a bit of a cypher, there is a good reason we had never produced this play in our first 23 years of work.
Inspired by reading a historical novel set in the era of King John, I remembered that Shakespeare had written a play about the guy we typically think of as the mustache-twirling villain from Robin Hood. Of course, I hadn't read the play in decades, and although I'd seen my first production a few years earlier at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, it did not leave me eager to ever direct or produce the play. And then something magical happened.
As I re-read the play, I started to see it come to life in my mind's eye. I was charmed by the humor of the Bastard learning from his mother how she had succumbed to the irresistible advances of King Richard. I was excited by the raw bluntness and intelligence of this character I was imagining as fearlessly charismatic and quintessentially Plantagenet.
And then the other characters began to speak to me. I firmly believe Shakespeare intended the foreigners to be comic -- the French, Austrian and Italians who serve as foils to set off the trueness of the English character. Theatre critics who called the production "unnecessarily" comedic were outnumbered by those who were delighted that the show was actually entertaining. I saw how "King John" would have played to an Elizabethan audience, newly separated from Rome and finding its own national identity.
I think this production discovered something new about "King John" that has been lost for a few centuries -- that this is popular theatre. I felt we had a breakthrough, and learned how this play can actually entertain an audience.
Audiences agreed. Our ticket sales exceeded expectations, and the audience response was extremely positive.
Thank you to the large cast who went on this journey of discovery. Of the 24 Shakespearean actors in the cast, only one had ever been in "King John" before -- Barry Kraft, who had actually acted in it twice! -- and only one had ever seen a production, not including Barry. Several audience members told us this production completed their Shakespeare-viewing canon. Forage!
-- Lesley Schisgall Currier
On the English Side
King John, king of England - Scott Coopwood*
Prince Henry, his son - Zane Morissey
Queen Elinor, widow of King Henry II and mother to King John - Maxine Sattizahn
Blanche, Queen Elinor's granddaughter
and King John's niece - Sabrina Ferreira-Clifton
Earl of Pembroke - Buzz Halsing
Earl of Salisbury - Steven Salzman
Earl of Essex - Mario Thompson
Hubert de Burgh, Chamberlain to the King - James Hiser*
Robert Faulconbridge, a gentleman from Northamptonshire - Daniel Wallach
Philip Faulconbridge, his older brother - Erik MacRay
Lady Faulconbridge, their mother - Ellen Brooks
Jane Gurney, servant to Lady Faulconbridge - Nicole Thordsen
Peter of Pompfret, a prophet - Jack Halton
Executioners - Gary Grossman, Jack Halton
An English Messenger - Bradley Tejeda
On the French Side
King Philip - Barry Kraft*
Lewis the Dauphin, his son - Alexander Lenarsky
Prince Arthur, Duke of Brittany, son of Geffrey, elder brother of King John, rightful heir to the English throne - Samuel Berston
Constance, mother to Prince Arthur - Liz Sklar*
Chatillon, Ambassador from France to King - John Brandon Mears
Archduke of Austria - Gary Grossman
Mayor of Angiers, a city in Anjou - Jack Halton
A French Messenger - Sean Mirkovich
Soldiers, Messengers, Citizens of Angiers - Ellen Brooks, Tara Costello, Sean Mirkovich, Megan Putnam, Gabriela Schneider, Bradley Tejeda, Nicole Thordsen, Daniel Wallach
On the Side of the Pope
Cardinal Pandulph, the Pope's Legate - Stephen Muterspaugh*
Director - Lesley Schisgall Currier
Producer- Lesley Schisgall Currier
Costume Design- Abra Berman
Dialect Coach- Lynne Soffer
Dramturg- Cathleen Sheehan
Fight Director- Robert Squeri
Lighting Design- Ellen Brooks
Properties- Joel and Toni Eis
Script Consultant - Barry Kraft
Set Design- Mark Robinson
Sound Design/Composer- Brendan Aanes
Stage Manager- Sabrina Kniffin*
Assistant Stage Manager- Josh Garcia-Cotter
Member of Actor's Equity Association