Hawkridge brings life experience to role as Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’

Hawkridge brings life experience to role as Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’

Alan Hawkridge plays the lead role in Out Loud Theatre’s production of “King Lear”

PROVIDENCE – The promotion reads, “Alan Hawkridge Tackles King Lear.”

Hawkridge laughs.

“I’m tackling it to the ground,” he says.

Hawkridge’s daughter Kira is directing Out Loud Theatre’s production of “King Lear.” Discussions about having Hawkridge play Lear began about two years ago.

“When she first asked, I said no,” said Hawkridge. “But then I thought, what am I waiting for? I’m 68 years old. Am I going to wait until I’m 72 to play Lear?”

Hawkridge says he believes he’s at a point in his life where he understands Lear and his journey.

“He starts at the height of power. He’s arrogant. He demands love from his daughters,” says Hawkridge. “He has a temper. He overreacts to his youngest daughter. He wants his daughters to run the kingdom, but he wants all the trappings of being king. We follow his descent into madness, into despair. It’s a wonderful journey for an actor.”

Kira Hawkridge’s approach to her productions “is very physical,” said Alan. “Tackling that has been challenging. It’s a group ensemble awareness. Everybody’s got everybody else’s back.”

The rest of the cast is younger than Hawkridge.

“I’m 38 years older than the next-oldest actor,” he says. “They have lots of energy. I feed off that.”

Hawkridge said he enjoys working with his daughter. “We’ve had a few goes at this. It’s mostly a professional relationship. We each have a respect for the other’s work.”

Hawkridge has been teaching theater at the University of Rhode Island for the past 20 years. His daughter Pat is also a theater educator, actress and director.

“Kira actually saw a number of plays before she was born,” says Hawkridge, laughing. “She grew up with it. But it wasn’t until she was 14 that she decided this is what she wants to do.”

When she was a student at the University of Rhode Island, her interests turned from acting and toward directing. “

“She’s directed over 30 plays in the five years since college,” said Hawkridge. “She’s driven. She’s a true artist.”

Hawkridge says he is looking forward to more projects with his daughter. “She’s looking at doing a version of ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and an adaptation of ‘Alice in Wonderland,’” he said. Between his daughter and his wife, “I don’t have to look for work outside our home.”

Hawkridge is also looking forward to retiring at the end of this academic year.

“There’s a season for everything, and this is the season for change,” he said.

He said working with his daughter has been a highlight for him, and his time with Out Loud “a renaissance in my career.”

Out Loud Theatre presents Shakespeare’s “King Lear” Nov. 10 through Dec. 3 at its Mathewson Street theater in Providence, 134 Mathewson St. For more information, including tickets and directions, visit www.outloudtheatre.org .