Running time: 2 hours and a 15 minute intermission
Recommended minimum age: 12
Taube Atrium Theater
401 Van Ness Avenue, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA, 94102
$30, General Seating
Group Ticket Discount: 15% off purchase of 10+ tickets
Season Subscription: $80, attend all 4 productions this season at a single discounted price. Savings of up to $45!
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Kirsten Brandt
Starring L. Peter Callender
Richard III explores the Machiavellian rise of power of one of Shakespeare’s most fascinating and complex anti-heroes. King Edward sits on the throne ending the decades-long War of the Roses, but his youngest brother Richard has his eyes on the crown. Fueled by an entitled lust for power and villainous panache, Richard’s path to glory is marked by seduction, murder, and betrayal. His darkly comedic ambition is no match for friends, family, or enemies as he careens his way to the top. Starring AASC Artistic Director L. Peter Callender as the unapologetic king you love to hate, this exploration in masterful manipulation is one of Shakespeare’s most profound commentaries on power, family, and the right to rule.
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain,
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
– Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III. Act I, scene 1.
In the first moments of the play, Shakespeare’s anti-hero, and one of the most controversial monarchs of British history, invites us to be a co-conspirator in his machinations. And we can’t help but be drawn in as he plots against, betrays and crushes those that stand in his way. We find ourselves cheering for him while at the same time horrified by his actions.
In our current world of fake news and misinformation, Richard III reminds us how language can control and confuse us. Richard is a master manipulator, a supreme orator and propagandist, who understands how words can influence and mislead. No one is safe from his wordplay. Richard’s emblem, the boar’s head, is fitting for such a man who uses rhetoric as others use swords, for it is one of the most dangerous of all creatures.
Even though the play revolves around those in the highest spheres of political office, Shakespeare gives us a wonderful counterpoint with commentary by the citizens. We are confronted by how the King’s behavior and policies reverberate throughout the country and affect ordinary people.
Richard may call himself a villain, but he justifies his motivations. How we treat each other and how we are treated by our family can shape us. It can deform our soul as it has with Richard, or it can give us the greatest support. Shakespeare asks us to consider familial love and obligations against this political backdrop rife with curses, dreams, and ghosts.
I am thankful to African-American Shakespeare Company for inviting me to direct this play and work with these phenomenal artists.