Actor August Schellenberg, a Montrealer of Mohawk-English heritage, tackles King Lear in a new Ottawa production that features an all-aboriginal cast.
National Arts Centre artistic director Peter Hinton — directing one of his final productions before leaving the post in August — has set this version of Shakespeare's tragedy in 17th century Canada, amid the political pressures of early contact between native people and Europeans. Hinton said he believes the Bard's story of waning power, struggles over land and authority fits well into Canada’s history.
King Lear's daughters, ordered to prove their love for him, are portrayed by Tantoo Cardinal (Regan), Monique Mojica (Goneril) and Jani Lauzon (Cordelia).
This King Lear features a cast of aboriginal and Métis actors hailing from across the country, including Keith Barker, Ryan Cunningham, Meegwun Fairbrother, Kevin Loring, Billy Merasty, Craig Lauzon, Jeremy Proulx and Gordon Patrick White.
Many of the faces will be familiar to Ottawa audiences who watched Death of a Chief, a NAC co-production with Native Earth Performing Arts.
Lorne Cardinal, who played Sgt. Davis Quinton on CTV’s Corner Gas, serves as assistant director.
King Lear opens at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on May 8 and runs to May 26.