By Jamil Jude, Assistant Director
Today the first preview performance of STICK FLY, I wanted to take a quick moment to reflect on this process and the journey of bringing this play to the Park Square stage
One of the greatest pleasures of working with Marion McClinton is seeing him work with actors around the table. For those of you unfamiliar to the play-making process, table work is usually done in the first day of rehearsals. It is an opportunity for the actors to read the play and ask questions about the text, their characters, their relationships, and it’s a time where the director begins to unfold his vision for the show. What makes table work with Marion so rewarding is that he doesn’t rush the table work. He allows his actors to take their time and really learn as much as they can about their parts as possible before moving on.
Well it finally came, the moment I’ve been waiting for…a Mafioso version of King Lear! Let me preface this blog by saying that I am obsessed with mafia movies, I had a copy of Scarface hidden in my room at an age that was probably waaayy too young; and there are not enough hands in Minneapolis to count how many times I have seen The Godfather. The idea of the anti-hero, the bootlegger, the gangster, it had the exact effect Hollywood wanted to impress upon me, no matter how shady or murderous the character in the film, I always found myself rooting for them to prevail!
Needless to say, when Park Square announced that they would be placing King Lear (a personal favorite of mine) in the Prohibition era I just about jumped out of my skin. Such a clear and appropriate choice that had never occurred to me before! But of course it made sense, besides the original setting, what better way to portray the story of an ailing patriarch who must divide his kingdom amongst his kin? The Bard may not have known it but Lear was made for a mafia setting, it has the wise patriarch (Lear/Vito Corleone), the ungrateful and brash children (Regan and Goneril/James Caan’s hot-headed portrayal in The Godfather). The hours would not pass quickly enough from the moment I discovered this until opening night, and to make matters worse I was back home during the opening week!
Last week I finally made it to the production, I could barely contain my excitement, spouting off facts and eager wishes for the production to my date, who I’m sure was thinking about sitting with someone less…zealous. Then the actors took the stage for the pre-show party and I was transported for the next 2 hours. I was thrilled with many of the mafia inclusions, such as using a cake with a map of England for dividing Lear’s kingdom, a stage-full of guns (including a false arm with a shotgun!!), and a knife-fight with ties.
Folks, if you have not seen Park Square’s production of King Lear, you really must! Ray Birke (Sunshine Boys at the Guthrie and The Wonder Years) is phenomenal, right up there with Lears such as Ian McKellen and Ian Holm. Let me drop the banner for a moment and speak to you not as an intern for Park Square but as an avid theatre fan and lover of Shakespeare. I have seen some of the best portray Shakespeare’s characters (Jude Law as Hamlet) and this production affords a spot in the file and rank of Shakespeare’s legacy. Check it out! It’s an offer you can’t refuse….(I had to do it, I really did.)