by William Shakespeare
producing artistic director’s notes by Emilia Sargent
After a nearly two-year postponement, King Lear is being brought to the stage in honor of C. David Frankel, our founding Artistic Director and a beloved member of the faculty at the University of South Florida School of Theatre and Dance (SOTAD). This production began with David’s vision and a cast and production team that he curated for what was intended to be a 2020 production. Our 2022 production blends David’s original cast and design team with newcomers to the TampaRep family. This reflects our desire to honor our past while building our future. David wanted to bring classics to the stage that contemporary audiences would not otherwise have the chance to relate to, engage with, and enjoy. King Lear is exemplary of this vision given that the last local production of this Shakespearean classic was in Sarasota in 1993, and there is no record of the play ever being produced by a Tampa area theatre.
As the Producing Artistic Director leading the company into its second decade, it is my personal mission to honor the body of work and artistic integrity of our founding years while creating an expansive future for the company. TampaRep’s vision is to be a thriving regional theatre, built on creative excellence and inclusivity, which enhances Tampa as a cultural destination and enriches and reflects our community as an artistic home for all to discover, share, create, and experience meaningful stories. Some of the first steps we have taken in service of this vision include paying artists and designers more, expanding our artistic family, finding ways to make live theatre more accessible to our community, and partnering with other artistic organizations to enhance live theatre in Tampa. TampaRep has always had a place at the USF because of David’s connection. King Lear marks the first production in a newly established educational partnership with USF SOTAD. Together, we seek to provide educational opportunities for SOTAD Theatre students to collaborate with theatre professionals, thereby gaining work experience outside of the classroom as a component of their academic journey. This is a direct continuation of David’s vision of offering practical experience to students, establishing community partnerships, and bringing plays to the stage. With this commitment to the future, all of us at TampaRep and USF SOTAD honor David.
This production is utilizing several USF students in set construction, run crew, board operation, and more. Additionally, two advanced design students are receiving real world experience as they lend their talents to us in scenic and costume design. Going forward, this partnership will enable programming for performance students to work on stage alongside professional actors, as well as continue to give opportunities to production and design students.
In support of this program, both organizations are teaming up to create the C. David Frankel Memorial Scholarship. Please consider donating directly to this scholarship and telling your friends to buy tickets to King Lear to help ensure scholarship funds for the next five years. Each year, one Performance student and one Production student will be selected from a pool of applicants to receive $1000 scholarships to be used to advance their crossing into professional theatre work. With your help, we can reach our goal to raise $10,000 for this purpose.
On behalf of TampaRep I offer our heartfelt thanks to the USF School of Theatre and Dance for their warm welcome, their active collaboration, and for hosting TampaRep. Please lean in and discover King Lear, the relevance of its themes in current society, and the many reasons that David loved this play.