The cast of the Globe Theatre’s King Lear arrived at the Hewannorra Airport on Monday afternoon, on the final leg of a world tour that started April. There was not a bleary eye among the group of about a dozen. One cast member gleefully described the visit as “the beacon at the end of the tunnel.” On a particularly hot day that sent most residents in search of shady spots outdoors, the visiting thespians were more that happy for the break from frigid conditions elsewhere.
The Globe Theatre is here for three shows, starting today Wednesday at Fond D’or, and continuing on Friday August 23 and Saturday August 24 at the Gaiety on Rodney Bay. Heading the cast is Joseph Marcel who was beaming like a schoolboy just arrived at his favourite summertime vacation spot. Only, for native born Marcel arriving here didn’t just “feel like coming home”; he actually was home again to afford fellow countrymen the chance finally to see him perform in a role other than Geoffrey the Butler in Will Smith’s Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Based on reviews, Marcel has been delivering captivating performances as King Lear throughout the tour.
It was only this past July that the group knew for sure they would be here this summer. Through the collaborative efforts of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board and the Cultural Development Foundation the event has received wide publicity and is highly anticipated by local fans of theater, of Shakespeare in particular.
On Monday representatives from both the CDF and the SLTB welcomed the cast at the airport’s VIP lounge. CDF’s Petrus Compton, lauded the efforts of the partners as well as the office of the British High Commission and JD Douglas for the fulfillment of this venture. From the onset, said Compton, the CDF worked assiduously to have Saint Lucia featured on this year’s international tour. With Marcel in the role of King Lear, the job of promoting the event was made that much easier!
Also speaking on Monday at the brief reception was John Emmanuel PR Manager at the Saint Lucia Tourist Board. “For us at the SLTB when we first got wind of this, it was easy for us to see the connection. It was easy for us to draw from the ethos set by the Government that of tying in nicely the ministry of tourism with that of the creative industry,” Emmanuel said. He likened bringing the world-class performance of King Lear to Saint Lucia to bringing world-class performers to the island during the Jazz Festival. “Putting these performers side by side with the best Saint Lucian performers, gives the SLTB another platform to market the island,” he said.
Tom Byrd who is with the executive producer said that he was lucky to be travelling all over the world with the production. “But I have never been met with an invitation with so much glee,” he said. “I am delighted that we can end this tour in this extraordinary place,” he added.
“Bon jour” was how Joseph Marcel started his pronouncements. “I just want to say this is an extraordinary honour. It is a very touching moment. And it has been done before, but if it hadn’t then I would do it, I mean be the first to kiss the ground,” he said with a wide sincere smile. Describing his fellow cast as an amazing group, he then spoke of their journeys before arriving to this place he calls home. According to Marcel the play evokes different emotions at different places where they have performed and it would be interesting to see the reactions of Saint Lucians.
This is Joseph Marcel’s second outing with the Globe Theatre having first performed with them in 2011 when he played Leonato in “Much ado about nothing.” Marcel and the Globe Theatre have won rave reviews for its take on King Lear, which has been described by many as Shakespeare’s grandest tragedy.
The story line depicts Lear as overburdened by his royal duties and then proposes to break up his kingdom and divide it among his three daughters. Unfortunately this act of kindness is met with doses of flattery, deceit and betrayal.
Founded by the pioneering American actor and director Sam Wanamaker, Shakespeare’s Globe is a unique international resource dedicated to the exploration of Shakespeare’s work and the playhouse for which he wrote, through the connected means of performance and education.