Screaming Butterflies Productions, a new theater company in Tacoma, is producing Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of King Richard II” to be performed in the Dukesbay Theater space April 13-29.
One of the more rarely produced plays in Shakespeare’s canon, “Richard II” is about a power struggle between two factions fighting to keep or win the crown of England. Historically, it marks the beginning of the War of the Roses in England, over a century of civil war during the Middle Ages. In this production, director Kathryn Philbrook explores the nature of power, how it changes people, how they relate to it, and what happens when they lose it.
“It feels very timely,” says Philbrook, “We have two potential leaders, neither of whom is really a very good king, and we see what they are willing to do and give up to stay in power.”
Careful not to try to make this an allegory or one-to-one comparison to any specific current event, this Screaming Butterflies production is not setting the play in an identifiable time or place, but is style-influenced by 1920s art deco and “Mad Men” era lines. Set design is by architect S. Matthew Philbrook, and costume design by theater veteran Naarah McDonald. Original music is being composed by Mateo Herrera, bringing an accessible modernity and a fresh contemporary vibe. Rounding out the production team are Jen Tidwell, who does fight choreography and Leo Foster, who is in charge of lighting design.
Co-Producers Philbrook and Jeanette Sanchez-Izenman are excited about this maiden voyage for Screaming Butterflies. They began planning to collaborate over a year ago, and surprised each other with how closely their artistic values aligned.
“Theatre affords us a space to confront threats to our being as women in a #metoo era and make them safe. Screaming Butterflies is committed to a feminist approach for creating performance with a keen eye on body positivity and a commitment to multicultural artistic collaboration,” says Sanchez-Izenman.
In this light, the cast features several women in strong and leading roles: Brittany Henderson plays Richard II, Nastassia Reynolds is Henry Bolingbroke. The rest of the cast play multiple ensemble roles, and include LaNita Walters, Steve Gallion, Cat Waltzer, Ben Stahl, Jackie-Lyn Villava-Cua, Jazmine Herrington, Travis Martinez, Ed Medina, and Tony Hicks.
“Richard II” will be performed at Dukesbay Theater in the Merlino Art Center located at 508 6th Ave., Ste. 10, Tacoma. Screaming Butterflies’ website is screamingbutterfliestheater.wordpress.com; and tickets are available for purchase through Brown Paper Tickets at screamingbutterflies.brownpapertickets.com.