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Interview: Alistair Newton’s King Lear is a Queen

Senior Arts Editor Mark Wigmore speaks with Director Alistair Newton about his new take on Shakespeare’s “King Lear” as part of Canadian Stage’s “Shakespeare in High Park”.

WHAT: Shakespeare in High Park: King Lear

WHERE: The High Park Amphitheatre in High Park

WHEN: Opening Thursday July 13th and running through September 3rd






About Shakespeare in High Park: Your destination for decidedly untraditional Shakespeare under the stars, all summer long. Canada's longest-running outdoor theatre event celebrates its 35th year with bold new takes on two Shakespeare classics. Get transported from the enchanted musical shores of Illyria, setting for the madcap comedy of mistaken identity Twelfth Night (or What You Will), to the divided kingdom of King Lear, one of the most monumental works of English drama - re-imagined from a female perspective, and starring award-winning actor Diane D'Aquila.

About King Lear: As a method of dividing her kingdom in three-parts, Queen Lear demands that her daughters, Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia compete in declarations of their love for her. Misjudging her children's loyalty, she soon finds herself in the middle of a civil war, stripped of her family, kingdom and crown.

About Alistair Newton: Alistair is the Director of ‘King Lear’ this year at Shakespeare in High Park. Of the production he says: The production opens with the image of a confused old woman, enthroned on an empty stage, attended by a crossed-dressed Fool; she might be your grandmother, your sister, your spouse, or indeed, yourself. Lear's journey is re-imagined as a fever-dream inspired by the final days of Elizabeth I, the most iconic Queen in Western history.

Born in Prince Rupert British Columbia, Alistair Newton is a Toronto-based director of theatre and opera, and Dora nominated playwright. Alistair was a participant in the inaugural presentation of The Ark at The National Arts Centre English Theatre (2006), and is a member of the Director’s Lab of Lincoln Center Theater. Alistair served as Apprentice Director for the Ensemble Studio of the Canadian Opera Company (2009/10 Season), where he directed a production of Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona. Recent work includes director/dramaturge for Bella: The Color of Love with Teresa Tova and Mary Kerr (Philadelphia Theatre Company, a commission for the 2011 Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts) and writer/director for Of a Monstrous Child: a gaga musical which closed the 2012/13 Mainstage season at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

Alistair served as Assistant Coordinator for The Young Creators' Unit (now The Emerging Creators' Unit) at Buddies for three seasons, and has directed five consecutive projects for the program, and he also completed a residency funded by The Canada Council for the Arts as Apprentice Artistic Director to former Buddies Artistic Director Brendan Healy. As an Assistant Director in the theatre, Alistair has worked under Peter Hinton and Jackie Maxwell at The Shaw Festival, and Brendan Healy at Buddies, and in opera under François De Carpentries, Paul Curran, and the late Brian MacDonald, all at the Canadian Opera Company.

Alistair spent two seasons at The Shaw Festival of Canada, first as a participant in the Neil Munro Intern Director's Project where he directed Three Short Plays by Samuel Beckett --the first time the playwright's work has appeared on the Festival's stages -- and most recently as Assistant Director to Peter Hinton on Hinton's musical adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.

As a journalist, Alistair is a past contributor to Xtra Magazine, and his work has also appeared in fab and the Gay and Lesbian Review. Alistair is a contributor to the TRANS(per)FORMING Nina Arsenault: An Unreasonable Body of Work, an international publication edited by Judith Rudakoff for Intellect Books (June, 2012). Alistair holds a BFA from the University of Victoria.

Alistair is currently a candidate in York University's MFA program in Direction in Collaboration with Canadian Stage where he will direct a production for Canadian Stage's Shakespeare in High Park in the summer of 2017, as well as a production at The Berkley Street Theatre, and he will also assist Canadian Stage Artistic Director Matthew Jocelyn on his upcoming production of the North American premiere of Liv Stein by Nino Haratischwili.

“My output as a playwright and director with Ecce Homo Theatre seeks to achieve intimacy through artifice using a queer aesthetic as a tool for destabilization, to draw attention to hypocrisy and deflate the un-ironic. As one of my former teachers Charles Marowitz once said, ‘Laughter can be a hammer-stroke in the hands of deft satirists’”.


Senior Arts Editor Mark Wigmore is heard at 8:40 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on weekdays during the Jazz FM91 Arts Report. And don’t miss his arts and culture interview and entertainment magazine program, Arts Toronto, Sundays between 8-9 a.m.


To get in touch with Mark it’s

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