Novel adaptation brings relevance to Parkrose High School’s upcoming production of “LEAR”

Take a look, and discover why you’ll want to see the Parkrose High School Thespian Troupe #1783 present their most challenging work to date – by William Shakespeare. There’s a good reason they’re not calling it “King Lear” …

Working out the blocking for scenes from the upcoming production of “LEAR” is Edgar, played by Oly Arellano; Kent, by Belinda Washington; Goneril, by Jessica Davison; Gloucester (with his head tipped back), by Derek Rathke; Regan ,played by Kasey Simmons; Lear, by Haley Lusby; and Fool, by Mackenzie Billick-Smith. Above is Cornwall, played by Jackson Singleton.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Continuing the tradition of presenting fine theatrical plays, the Parkrose High School Thespian Troupe #1783 presents Lear, a tragedy written by William Shakespeare, opening on May 13.

In this production, however, there isn’t a King Lear or Queen Lear – it’s just Lear, noted Parkrose High School’s drama instructor – who also was the one who adapted Shakespeare’s classic tragic play for this production – Ms. Zena.

“This production is set in the late 1920s, before the end of the ‘jazz era’,” Zena told us.  “It’s the end of the black-and-white film era. The talkies are coming in, and all kinds of changes are coming into the entertainment industry.”

While maintaining Shakespeare’s words, Lear in this play is an aging actress who’s gone on to form a film production company. She’s considering how to share her company with her daughters, and dealing with a cross-town rival studio. “It’s a story of greed and excessive pride, about a woman who values her ego more than her family – until she loses everything,” is how Zena described it.

Kat Mora-Shepard is building part of one of the sets to be used in Parkrose High’s upcoming production of “LEAR”.

A carnival of bad decisions
“This story is bloody, evil, and full of people making bad decisions,” Zena commented about the storyline.

“We read King Lear in class last year last year,” Zena explained. “At the time, the students really connected with these characters, and understood that they were making some really bad choices. They saw the evil that came from their choices. It was something completely different than what we’ve grappled with before.”

Many plays have one or two “meaty roles” in which characters make bad choices and suffer the consequences. “But, in this play, almost all the characters are making bad choices,” Zena observed. “So, the students are exploring how human it is to make a bad decision. It’s part of human nature to ‘take control’ and make bad decisions. In this play, the bad decisions continue to evolve and develop. Our students are seeing that, in the ‘real world’, people who develop their personal character learn from mistakes, and grow and change.”

Parkrose High School’s Theatre Operations Manager, Terry Franceschi, talks with students about the set’s design for “LEAR”.

Show opens May 13
Opening night for Shakespeare’s LEAR is May 13; the curtain goes up at 7:00 p.m. Be advised: This isn’t a show for tykes, but it is suitable for children 12 years and above.

The show continues on May 14, and then again on May 20 and 21. Tickets are $8 for adults, and $5 for students (18 & under) and Seniors (age 65 and over).

> Buy your tickets online right now! CLICK HERE to be taken to the
“Seat Yourself”
ticket website.

For more information or group seating contact Ms. Zena at (503) 408-2621, or e-mail her at

The Parkrose High School Theater is located at 12003 NE Shaver Street, just west of NE 122nd Avenue.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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