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KING LEAR Meets The Wild West Opening February 25 at Actors Co-op

Unlike recent productions that have played on southland stages over the past year, Actors Co-op’s production of KING LEAR is set in the sprawling California of the 1850s. The innovative staging is placed against the backdrop of a young Wild West – newly awash in gold – where ambition, power and morality are destined to collide. Arguably Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, this KING LEAR is a brutal and intimate examination of humanity that will leave you breathless.

About the Director
Ms. Marianne Savell directs. Recently, Ms. Savell directed Actors Co-op’s critically-acclaimed production of WIT, nominated for four Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards including Best Director. Other directing credits include the Jeff-nominated SOMEONE WHO’LL WATCH OVER ME (Victory Gardens, Chicago), the world premiere and LA Weekly award-winner GULF VIEW DRIVE, ANGEL STREET, TRANSLATIONS, THE CRUCIBLE (LA Weekly nomination for Best Director), the critically-acclaimed and multi-award nominated AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A Live Radio Play, HAMLET, GOD & SHAKESPEARE, MOLLY SWEENEY, PSYCHOPATHIA SEXUALIS and YOURS ISABEL.

The setting aside, Ms. Savell is passionate about the story. “Let’s face it. KING LEAR is a bear of a play. It’s long. It’s like climbing Mount Everest in scope and scale. We are doing a very lean cut that I think suits the setting of our particular production and will keep the attention of a modern audience. I think people are drawn to this story for the same reason they are drawn to HAMLET. Ultimately it’s a morality tale of what happens to people who choose ambition over relationships, ultimate selfishness – something we as humans battle every single day of our lives. Perhaps if we visit these stories enough, we won’t have to fall so far ourselves.â€

Actors Co-op’s production of KING LEAR will be performed on a thrust stage, a space that Savell is familiar with, having directed the LA Weekly-nominated production of THE CRUCIBLE in a thrust configuration. “The thrust stage will force the audience into a more intimate engagement with the characters and the story,†Ms. Savell said. “I hope that the audience will experience a LEAR that is accessible, honest, and moving, that when they walk away from this production, they understand why the characters do what they do and hopefully understand themselves better, as well.â€

Creative Team
The creative team for KING LEAR includes Set Designer Gary Lee Reed, Costume Designer Paula Higgins, Lighting Designer James L. Moody and Prop Designer Lori Berg. Rita Cofield is set as Assistant Director and Leticia Gonzalez is the Stage Manager. KING LEAR is produced by Rebecca Hayes.

About the Cast
The talented ensemble of KING LEAR includes Joseph Barone, Nathan Bell, Teresa Bisson, Heather Chesley, Cameron Dye, Michael Dye, Steve Gustafson, Montelle Harvey, Bruce Ladd, Tawny Mertes, Leticia Moore, Daniel J. Roberts, Richard Soto, and Angela Stewart-Starks.

In its 19th season of transforming theatre, Actors Co-op operates two 99-seat Equity-approved theatres on the campus of Hollywood Presbyterian Church. Actors Co-op began on January 8th, 1987, with a dozen actors. Currently, its membership exceeds 40 professionals.

Actors Co-op’s 19th season opened with MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG directed by Richard Israel, followed by GOD’S FAVORITE directed by Greg Zerkle and will conclude with THE TRAVELING LADY directed by Stephen Rothman.

Opening Night for KING LEAR is Friday, February 25, 2010 at 8 PM. A reception with the actors and creative team immediately follows the opening night performance. Regular performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2:30 PM. Saturday matinees are scheduled for March 5 and March 12 at 2:30 PM.

Actors Co-op presents MUSE, a pre-performance lecture series on spirituality and the arts. The lecture/discussion for KING LEAR takes place on Saturday, March 5 at 1:00 PM and will be led by Michael Bruner. Mr. Bruner was born and raised in the Philippines to missionary parents. He received his BA in English from the University of Washington and M.Div from Princeton Seminary. He was ordained in the PC(USA) in 1996 and served as a pastor for three years before moving to California where he worked in the dot.com and advertising fields.

Michael is currently an assistant professor of Theology at Azusa Pacific University and is enrolled at Fuller Seminary where he is studying for a Ph.D. in Theology and Culture. Michael splits his work time between APU, Fuller, and the Huntington Library, where he is a Reader. He also moonlights in his spare time as a struggling screenwriter. The MUSE event includes a box lunch and admittance to the 2:30 PM matinee performance of KING LEAR. Tickets are $30 and include lecture and performance. Lunch is available for an additional $8.

Actors Co-op’s Crossley Theatre is located at 1760 N. Gower Street, Hollywood, CA 90028, on the campus of Hollywood Presbyterian Church, one block north of Hollywood Boulevard, just off the Gower Street exit of the 101 Hollywood Freeway. Free, well-lit parking is available on Carlos Street (1/2 block east of Gower). Entrance to the theatres is on Carlos.

Ticket Information
Tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors (60 and older) and $20 for students group rates are available for parties of six or more. For reservations, call (323) 462-8460, ext. 300 or visit the website at www.ActorsCo-op.org.

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