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Production Notes

Richard the Third

Troutt Theater
January 15 - February 1, 2009
Directed by Denice Hicks
Set Design by Paul Gatrell
Costume Design by June Kingsbury
Music by Tom McBride
Light Design by Anne Willingham
Richard III Navada Shane Morgan

John Silvestro

Clarence Tom Mason
Buckingham David Wilkerson*
Hastings Phil Perry
Tyrell Jessejames Locorriere
Catesby R. Alex Murray
Richmond Benjamin Reed
Queen Elizabeth Nan Gurley*
Queen Margaret Brenda Sparks*
Duchess of York Wesley Paine
Lady Anne Claire Syler
Young Elizabeth Liz Young
Messenger/Citizen Christy White
Rivers Nathan Lee
Prince Edward Markus McClain
Young York Colin Merrick

* Denotes Member of Actors' Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States

Artistic Director Denice Hicks A note from the director:

The "show business” of politics is brilliantly illuminated through Shakespeare’s telling of The Tragedy of Richard the Third. As Shakespeare’s most histrionic and theatrical king, Richard of Gloucester lies, cheats and charms his way to the throne delighting in every devious step of the way. We’ve set the play in a Vaudeville theater to allow the characters their broadest strokes; the divas, the clowns, the straight men and the babes all have roles to play in this epic, yet domestic, drama. We’ve incorporated melodrama, music and even some magic into the production, all with due respect to Shakespeare's poetry..

The throne equals the spotlight, where everybody wants to be Top Banana. The way to get there is to backstab and outsmart everyone else trying for it, and, oh yeah, don’t forget to thank the little people who helped you along the way, or they won’t be there when you most need them.

This play, and in particular this production, illustrates that a leader driven by self-aggrandizement will never succeed. Poor Richard is so self involved that he cannot recognize brotherly love, familial bonds or even the basic tenets of right and wrong. He’s motivated by a lust for power and fame that has no higher purpose and, as his ghosts tell him in the end, for that he must "despair and die."

The daily scandals of contemporary politicians and celebrities seem to indicate that times have not changed much. We accept the media presentation of their exploits and foibles as entertainment, which shows us that we haven’t changed much, either.

I hope you enjoy The Tragedy of Richard the Third.

Denice Hicks

Dramaturg's Note:

In Shakespeare’s day, speaking too freely could mean prison.   So when Shakespeare wrote about how Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather took the throne from King Richard III, he followed all the approved Tudor versions of what happened.  Director Denice Hicks gives the Earl of Richmond (Elizabeth’s grandpa) a movie star glow in her Vaudeville world, absolutely consistent with Shakespeare’s depiction of a God appointed savior saving England from a dastardly villain.

Other historical accounts contradict many of the more lurid details of the Tudor story (King Edward’s wife gets the blame for the death of Richard’s brother Clarence, and his guilt in the murder of the princes is still hotly debated). After decades of war, few of the characters in our story could show clean hands. But the Tudor version insists on Richard’s unrelieved villainy to the extent that any natural emotion, such as grief for his brother, or any praiseworthy action, such as devotion to religion, must be a false front for his wicked schemes.

Shakespeare takes advantage of this text to create the greatest performer of them all, the legendary Richard who can kill your husband one day and make love to you the next; the brother who can embrace you with tears in his eyes and send murderers after you; the uncle professing love and loyalty while he plots your death. Such a performer deserves a Vaudeville stage where change comes lightning quick and everyone can applaud his miraculous transformations.

Vaudeville in the early twentieth century also gives the characters a time where cutthroat competitors vie for the spotlight at a moment when singers, comedians, dancers and all the others had to find a place in a world changed forever by the movies or disappear.  Richmond becomes the marquee idol, and Richard disappears. But if you find Richmond a little flat after Richard’s demonic energy, credit the magnetism of a true Vaudeville star in the live theatre.

Dr. Christine Mather


Production Notes



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