Richard rocks on in the ‘winter of COVID-19 discontent’

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Dene Kermond (left) as Richard and Lexi Sekuless (right) as Lady Anne. Photo: PassOut Media.

CANBERRA’S Shakespeare-specific theatre company, Lakespeare, is having fun with the Bard, even during what they’re calling “a winter of COVID-19 discontent”, with a slimmed down version of “Richard III” they promise will be “like no other play ever produced in the national capital”.

Founded by Taimus Werner-Gibbings, Paul Leverenz and actors Lexi Sekuless and Duncan Driver, Lakespeare is already the expert in the “like no other” category, having staged rambunctious waterside productions of “Much Ado About Nothing”, “Twelfth Night” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to thousands of eager Canberrans over the past three years in their Shakespeare by the Lakes venture.

Now that ever-popular history play about the murderous (so Shakespeare said) Richard, Duke of Gloucester and his rise to the English throne is being re-imagined as “Rockspeare Richard III”, to be performed live (COVID-19 restrictions permitting) before a ticketed studio audience at EPIC. It will also be available through online live streaming, a technology used by the company in reading and character study sessions through July.

Richard III. Photo: PassOut Media.

Only one Lakespeare company member was eligible for JobKeeper, so they’ve hooked into the funding provided for the Where You Are Festival and on a slim budget, promised that all funding goes to those involved in the creative process.

Sekuless herself takes on the directorial role for a 90-minute version of the play, with an all-star cast of 10, including Dene Kermond, Lainie Hart, Heidi Silberman, Damon Baudin and Duncan Driver. Sekuless plays Lady Anne to Kermond’s Richard in the notorious scene of seduction and the lush-voiced Driver plays Richard’s hapless brother Clarence, drowned in “a butt of malmsey”.

Jay Cameron has composed original music and Canberra’s most inventive costume designer, Fiona Victoria Hopkins, has put together “glam rock meets Elizabethan” gear, while choreography is by Tim Sekuless and Annette Sharpe.

The Mallee Pavilion has been converted into a television studio, where eight cameras will document performances, using a mix of stage and audio-visual skills to give a contemporary twist to an old theatrical warhorse. There’s even a “Murder” alert for kids in the booking process, unheard of in Shakespeare’s time.

“Rockspeare Richard III”, Mallee Pavilion, Exhibition Park In Canberra (EPIC), 7.30pm, Friday, August 7 and Saturday, August 8. Bookings for both live and streamed experiences at eventbrite.com.au/o/live-in-ya-lounge-30633731502

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