Free Shakespeare at Home 2020

This season's production of King Lear is now over.
Thank you to all who "attended" and made the show a success!

(L to R) Yohana Ansari-Thomas as Edgar, Phil Lowery* as Earl of Gloucester, and Jessica Powell* in the title role of San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s 2020 Free Shakespeare at Home production of King Lear (*member Actors’ Equity Association) (photo: San Francisco Shakespeare Festival)

This summer, Free Shakespeare in the Park had a new name-- Free Shakespeare at Home. In response to social distancing restrictions and pandemic safety measures, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival devised an innovative way to deliver a free and professional Shakespeare production to the communities of the Bay Area, as we have done for the past 38 years.  King Lear, was live-streamed, enabling the audience to view it from the comfort and safety of their homes. Individual artists, acting in front of green screens in their homes, transmitted their LIVE action to our tech director's home studio. The individual digital streams were then composited in real time onto scenic backgrounds and broadcast to the audience, creating the thrill of viewing a live, ensemble performance. 

King Lear told the story of a nation disrupted by political convulsion. The play was composed while Shakespeare was in quarantine during the plague of 1606, and felt essential to current times.  Script development began when shelter-in-place orders were issued in March, and the multiple crises that characterize our world at this time also inflected the director's vision of this compelling production.

Director Elizabeth Carter cast a woman in the leading role, in order to examine the pressures women face in leadership positions. Still known as the King, Lear used her retirement party to divide her kingdom equally among her three daughters, demanding speeches of praise to prove which loves her most. But when her youngest refused to play the game and was exiled, the nation was thrown into turmoil. Only through the intervention of the natural world did Lear find her way back to empathy with humankind. Full of thrilling language and unforgettable characters, as well as the famous storm scene, King Lear is Shakespeare at his very best.

King Lear - title art