If the themes of William Shakespeare’s “King Lear” are too dark and mature for younger audiences to handle, the Nittany Valley Shakespeare Company has them covered.
“Little Lear,” being performed this weekend at State College’s Orchard Park, is a 45-minute rendition of the famed Shakespearean play put on by local children enrolled in the company’s Camp Bill.
A theatrical summer camp, Camp Bill provides its enrollees with the opportunity to gain expertise from seasoned stage professionals taking their cue from the Royal Shakespeare Company. The performance of “Little Lear,” directed by San Francisco native Chris Hults, provides the youth of Centre County with an opportunity to put on their own professional production and also coincides with NVSC’s performance of “King Lear” at the State Theatre.
“I am excited for the NVSC to finally have the opportunity to make this leap in programming, having the ‘educational leg’ of the company with Camp Bill and ‘Little Lear’ intertwine so beautifully with the final product,” said Susan Riddiford-Shedd, the NVSC’s artistic director. “That synchronicity serves the public well and makes for not only a wonderful learning environment for all but gets everyone involved, young and old alike and moves us closer to us our very own true Shakespeare company in Happy Valley.”
The “Little Lear” shows are free to the public and give Centre County residents a chance to see these future thespians in a setting familiar to professional Shakespeare performances.
“Shakespeare festivals around the globe are often done in the great outdoors, not to mention that when they first began, the performances were also outside,” Riddiford-Shedd said. “I wanted to utilize our beautiful community parks and just thought that it would be a fun activity for families during the dog days of summer. There has been great turnout from the community at every show and venue, and that will continue to grow.”