Jeff Bukovinsky stars as the villainous King Richard in the Alban Arts Center's production of Shakespeare's "Richard III," which opens Friday.
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Alban Arts Center
8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and March 1-2; 2 p.m. Sunday and March 3
Adults $15, students and seniors $10
304-721-8896 or www.albanartscenter.com
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The long-dead British king, Richard the Third, has been in the news lately. The monarch's remains were discovered buried deep beneath a parking lot in Leicaster, England, near where the Battle of Bosworth Field took place and where Richard was killed by the forces of Henry VII.
Suddenly people around the world are talking about the king and his story, which director Marlette Carter admitted was pretty good timing for the Alban Arts Center's staging of William Shakespeare's "Richard III" that opens Friday in St. Albans.
Gazz spoke with Carter about the discovered bones in England, the enduring nature of Shakespeare's work and why the Alban is tackling one of Shakespeare's most often performed plays.
Q: So did you guys have anything to do with the discovery of King Richard's bones a couple of weeks ago?
(laughing) "Our PR department is second to none. We snuck over to England a few years ago. The hard part was making it look like we never put the body in the ground."
Q: Kidding aside, why do this particular play?
"It's one of Shakespeare's history plays, and the last time I can find that one of those history plays was performed publicly in Charleston, I believe it was 1893, and an actress dropped dead on the stage.
"The last time 'Richard the Third' was sort of done around here was at the Charleston's Women's Club in 1931, and they just had a reading of it. That's what I could find out without spending the rest of my life digging through old copies of the Charleston Gazette.
"Now, a lot of Shakespeare has been done. Charleston Stage Company has done a lot of Shakespeare. They've done the tragedies and most of the comedies -- and there was some talk of actually doing an all-female version of 'Henry III,' but that never happened."
Q: Shakespeare can be a bit intimidating. Was it hard to find a cast?
"It was really astonishing. We had 29 people come out for this one. Most of the time you're lucky if you get six or seven people to come out each night [of auditions], but there was a lot of interest.
"For Richard, we had a lot of really fabulous male actors show up, but I selected Jeff Bukovinsky. He's a very dynamic actor, a very physical actor and has an immense amount of presence on the stage.
"And yes, he's a very big Shakespeare nerd."
Q: What's the gist of the play, the 25-cent version?
"Oh wow, it would be easier to give you the twenty dollar version, but this is a play about ambition. Richard is very ambitious.
"It's also a play about spitting in someone's eye. Richard is deformed, ugly, and he wants to get back at people for not giving him the credit he deserves. He was a good person who became a very bad person."
Q: What's next for the Alban Arts Center?
"Well, we're doing 'A Delicate Balance' by Edward Albee, directed by Patrick Felton. We're also getting ready for our Alban Arts Academy, which offers acting, improv and painting classes."
Reach Bill Lynch at email@example.com or 304-348-5195.