Tony, Emmy, and Grammy winner André De Shields (Hadestown, The Wiz) will star in the title role of the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s production of King Lear as part of the Missouri company’s 21st summer of free Shakespeare in Forest Park.
The summer production, running June 2–27, marks the theatre’s return to live outdoor performance.
Classical Theatre of Harlem Associate Artistic Director Carl Cofield will helm an all-BIPOC company that also includes Brian Anthony Wilson (The Wire, The Sopranos) as Gloucester, Allen Gilmore as the Fool, J. Samuel Davis as Kent, Nicole King as Cordelia, Rayme Cornell as Goneril, Jacqueline Thompson as Regan, Daniel José Molina as Edgar, Leland Fowler as Edmund, Jason J. Little as Albany, Carl Overly, Jr. as Cornwall, and Michael Tran as Oswald, plus an ensemble of actors from The Black Rep’s Professional Internship Program: Kentrell Jamison, Theorri London, Brian McKinley, Tyler White, and Christina Yancy.
“André is a national treasure and one of the most extraordinary theatrical artists alive,” says Producing Artistic Director Tom Ridgely. “And Lear is the Everest of Shakespeare’s tragic roles. To see it played by an actor of his caliber in a setting as stunning as Forest Park after the year we’ve all been through, will be the thrill of a lifetime. And Carl Cofield’s vision for how the play speaks to a 21st century America is both bracing and brilliant. We couldn’t be more proud to welcome them and the incredible company they’ve assembled to St. Louis.”
“We are in a global reckoning with where we want to go and who we want to be,” adds Cofield. “‘We See You White American Theater’ is the current zeitgeist. For me, this chance to do King Lear with André in a bold, vibrant re-imagining speaks directly to 13-year-old Carl and seeing Brown and Black people at the forefront. To bring this story in this way to St. Louis audiences is something I’m tremendously excited by.”
The creative team includes scenic designer Wilson Chin, costume designer Mika Eubanks, music and sound designer David R. Molina, and lighting designer John Wylie.
The Festival’s 2021 season will also include a new outdoor touring production of Othello that will visit 24 public parks across the metro area and three outdoor performances of Shakespeare in the Streets: The Ville in one of the most historically significant Black communities in America.
Performances in Shakespeare Glen are free and open to the public, but for the first time will be limited in size to ensure the safety of staff, artists, and audience. Visit STLShakes.org.