St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s production of King Lear starring Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award winner André De Shields (Hadestown, The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Play On!, The Full Monty) and helmed by Carl Cofield, won 3 St. Louis Theater Circle Awards last night including Outstanding Leading Performer in a Drama for De Shields, Outstanding Director of a Drama for Cofield; and Outstanding Sound Design in a Play for David R. Molina. The production was nominated for 9 awards.
After a two-year absence, the St. Louis Theater Circle Awards returned in a virtual ceremony streamed by HEC-TV on March 28, 2022. The ninth annual ceremony celebrated recipients of awards for the 2020 and 2021 years combined, covering approximately 75 theater and opera productions. Once again, because of the continued presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was streamed as a virtual presentation.
King Lear was the first major live theatrical event in the country since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Upon hearing the news of his award, De Shields shared, “On January 6, 2021, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was nearing its first anniversary, my agent, Margi Rountree, informed me of an interest and availability request from Laura Stanczyk Casting, to assume the titular role of King Lear at the Saint Louis Shakespeare Festival. You damn right I’m interested. The engagement would require my residing in St. Louis during the months of May and June; so, I disavowed the contract I had intended to sign, making myself available to assay Lear. I mean, is there a more evocative allegory for the pandemic than the descent into dementia of a sated autocrat? The production would be conceived and directed by Carl Cofield in the distinctive style of Afro-Futurism, determined by the perspective of critical race theory. Director Cofield was in such command of his concept and demand of my commitment that I learned to breathe in the absence of oxygen. Sound Designer David R. Molina’s viscerally percussive soundscape served as my out-of-body lungs, until the disarrayed and delusional king had been restored to empathic redemption by the death of his dearest child. Indeed, his own life had too long been on loan from that very Death. Thank you, Saint Louis Shakespeare Festival.”
André De Shields led an all-BIPOC company featuring some of the finest actors out of New York, Chicago and St. Louis. He was joined by Brian Anthony Wilson (“The Wire,” “The Sopranos”) as Gloucester, acclaimed Chicago and Shakespearean actor Allen Gilmore as the Fool and St. Louis legend J. Samuel Davis as Kent. The three daughters are played by Nicole King (Cordelia) and Festival favorites Rayme Cornell (Goneril) and Jacqueline Thompson (Regan). Daniel José Molina (Oregon Shakespeare Festival) and Leland Fowler (TFANA) play Gloucester’s sons Edgar and Edmund, respectively. The company also includes Jason J. Little (Albany), Carl Overly, Jr. (Cornwall) and Michael Tran (Oswald), as well as an ensemble of actors from The Black Rep’s Professional Internship Program: Kentrell Jamison, Theorri London, Brian McKinley, Tyler White and Christina Yancy. Click here for the virtual playbill.
The creative team for King Lear includes first-time Festival designers Wilson Chin (Scenic Design), Mika Eubanks (Costume Design) and David R. Molina (Music and Sound Design). John Wylie (Lighting Design) returned for his fourteenth season.
The mission of the St. Louis Theater Circle is simple: To honor St. Louis professional theater. Other cities around the country, such as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington D.C., pay tribute to their own local theatrical productions with similar awards programs.
Congrats to all of the winners. Click the article below to read about all of the winners.
And watch the full presentation:
Photos: Opening Night with St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s KING LEAR Star André De Shields; St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones Presents Proclamation Naming June 4, 2021 – KING LEAR/ André De Shields Day
Lia Chang loves to tell stories – as an actor, a multi-media content producer, a performing arts photographer and an award-winning filmmaker. A co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, Lia makes films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Last Dragon. She Executive Produced and stars in the indie films Hide and Seek (AA Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Best Actress Nomination), Rom-Com Gone Wrong, and When the World Was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative). Lia made her stage debut as Liat in a national tour of South Pacific with Barbara Eden and Robert Goulet, was featured as Joy in Signature Theatre’s revival of Sam Shepard’s Chicago and has worked extensively Off-Broadway. Photo archives: Lia Chang Theater Portfolio collection,1989-2011, housed in the AAPI collection in the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room; Lia Chang Photography Collection in The Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library. Awards: 2000 OCA Chinese American Journalist Award, the 2001 AAJA National Award for New Media. Lia is an AAJA Executive Leadership Graduate (2000), a Western Knight Fellow at USC’s Annenberg College of Communications for Specialized Journalism on Entertainment Journalism in the Digital Age (2000), a National Press Photographers Association Visual Edge/Visual Journalism Fellow at the Poynter Institute for New Media (2001), a Scripps Howard New Media Fellow at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism (2002), and a National Tropical Garden Environmental Journalism Fellow (2003). www.liachang.com, www.liachangphotography.com