Arts & Culture

‘King Lear,’ Armageddon and the Fool

When you talk with actors and directors about roles and plotlines, you never know where the conversation will go. That’s because creating a play is not an intellectual exercise, it’s about action, says director Joseph Hanreddy. It’s in what the characters do. And in Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s production of “King Lear,” which opens this weekend, what they do is bring about the end of the world.

“The metaphor is how easily the membrane that holds organized civilization together can be ruptured,” Hanreddy says. In today’s fast-paced, high-tech world, “everything can come to a tipping point easily because it’s so interconnected. You can propel toward an apocalypse more quickly now than anyone had envisioned before.”

His production is set in futuristic England where the old influences hold, but are seen through the lens of modernity.

Lear, played by Aled Davies, is a great leader, a mighty king who believes he can secure his kingdom’s future by dividing it among his three daughters. It all backfires when he loses his temper with his youngest and most beloved daughter Cordelia (Cassandra Bissell). He banishes her from his sight and brings on an apocalypse. Civil war erupts and the land is laid to waste, along with Lear’s mental state.

At the core is the relationship between Lear and his Fool, played by Tom Ford, who is the king’s — and the play’s — comic relief. The Fool is a needling critic for Lear as well as a satirical commentator who keeps the audience in the loop about Lear’s mistakes.

“It’s a quirky role,” Ford says. “The Fool’s the person who is trying to say ‘no’ to Lear and to hold him accountable. You know, he’s one of those people in your life who call you on your stuff, and they are very annoying.”

Davies and Ford are longtime friends and colleagues who’ve known each other for more than 15 years. That personal connection helps fuel their characters with a deeper bond.

“We’re close friends, and that’s a lovely thing to have when you’re doing a play where that figures prominently,” Ford says. “There’s an emotional history as well that feeds the work.”

NOW LEAVING SWEET, TEXAS

Candis Terry traded life in Southern California for one on an Idaho farm in the mid-1990s. She and her husband, Bill, grow alfalfa in Kuna, and Terry also is a romance writer of the popular “Sugar Shack” and “Sweet, Texas” series. The latter series wrapped up on July 28 with the release of “Truly Sweet.”

Terry’s books for Avon Contemporary Romance tell tales of small-town romances. Her stories are funny and emotional, even though they incorporate serious subjects, such as divorce, death and PTSD.

The “Sweet” series focuses on the love interests of four brothers, all marines who return from the War in Afghanistan after the death of their fifth brother. They each must deal with the challenges of reassimilating into their civilian lives. For research, Terry interviewed Idaho veterans.

Her next series will launch in April 2016. It’s about a family of winemakers in the Columbia Gorge AVA. “The Sunshine Creek” series will focus on five brothers who must decide between living their own lives and taking on the family business after their parents are killed.

AUTHOR WITH IDAHO TIES

Nampa-raised Val Brelinski recently released her first novel, “The Girl Who Slept with God” (Viking Press). Set in 1970, it focuses on Jory, a strong-willed young woman and her religiously fervent sister who returns from a missionary trip convinced the child she is carrying is of divine conception. They retreat to Arco, where they create an extended family of social outcasts who help them prepare for the second coming. The book is receiving extremely positive reviews for both the story and Brelinski’s writing style.

Brelinski was raised in an evangelical Christian family. She graduated from Northwest Nazarene University and the University of Virginia and was a recent Wallace Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University. She lives in Northern California.

JAMES CASTLE COMES HOME

Idaho’s James Castle died in 1977. Today, he’s one of the most collected and renowned outsider artists in the world. Yet, few people who live on Castle Drive where Castle lived know who he was.

That will change now that the city purchased Castle’s former home in July to develop it as an art center and tribute to Idaho’s best-known artist.

The purchase of the dilapidated house includes a garden, the bunk house Castle used as his studio and a trailer where he slept.

Boise Department of Arts and History is working with Boise State University, gallerist Jacqueline Crist, who manages the Castle collection, and the Smithsonian, which has a significant Castle collection.

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