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Richard III (2018)

Richard III (2018)

Jul 13-Aug 11, 2018

Richard III (2018)

"Bloody thou art, bloody will be thy end."

The Bard’s most murderous, malicious and mesmerizing king comes to the CSF indoor stage for the first time. Richard, Edward IV’s deformed and embittered younger brother, will do anything to take the crown for himself—but once he has the throne, everything falls apart. Four centuries later, the masterful conclusion of Shakespeare’s Henriad history cycle still speaks volumes about lies, honor and the dark side of ambition.

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Plot Synopsis

With the latest defeat of the Lancaster family, the Yorks are now in power under King Edward IV of England, but the king’s brother, Richard, covets the crown. Richard conspires to consolidate power, which includes instigating the death of his brother George, Duke of Clarence and marrying Lady Anne, Warwick’s daughter.

Edward urges peace between his wife’s family and their adversaries at court—including Hastings, Buckingham and Richard—but Edward’s health fails when he hears of Clarence’s death. Upon hearing that her brother and son, Rivers and Grey, have been imprisoned by Richard and Buckingham, Elizabeth takes her other children into sanctuary at Westminster Abbey.

Upon Edward’s death, Prince Edward is escorted to London to be crowned King Edward V. But Richard and Buckingham intercept the royal party, taking the prince and his brother to the tower. While outwardly preparing for Edward V’s coronation, Richard and Buckingham undermine the new king by executing Hastings, spreading rumors of infidelity and illegitimacy and suggesting that Richard is the true king.

Richard is crowned King Richard III and orders that the princes in the tower be killed. Soon after, Queen Anne mysteriously dies and Richard begins making enemies of his friends. Paranoid about losing his hold on the crown, he determines to marry Elizabeth’s daughter—also named Elizabeth—whose Yorkist blood will strengthen his claim.

Meanwhile, the young Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond (descended from Henry V’s wife) has arrived in England with an army and Richard’s enemies flock to his side. While Richard and Richmond prepare for battle on Bosworth Field, they are both visited by the ghosts of Richard’s victims, who curse Richard and bless Richmond.

Richard and Richmond fight and Richmond is victorious. He vows to marry young Elizabeth, uniting the houses of Lancaster and York and finally ending the Wars of the Roses as the Tudor King Henry VII.

—Hadley Kamminga-Peck, PhD, Dramaturg

Director's Note

Richard III is about a man who ruthlessly seeks the throne by any means and attempts to play God in order to achieve his goal. Using misdirection and libel, Richard manipulates people and situations as he removes each obstacle (read: living, breathing humans) that stands in his path to ultimate power. Every time I read the play, I am struck by two things: 1) the script’s numerous references to theatrical language and 2) the fact that the first word in the play is “now.”

Richard III is an unabashedly theatrical play. Dissembling is essential to the story and the text is peppered with references to laying plots, giving direction and roleplaying. Richard and Buckingham blatantly state that they are pretending to be something they’re not, using acting techniques to fool other characters. By the end of the play, the depths of deception to which Richard has sunk are so low and his perception is so distorted that he ultimately alienates his supporters and loses control of who is directing his story.

About the word “now”: With this production, we’re embracing the theatricality of Richard III, staging it with Richard as the actor-manager of a troupe of 1850s players rehearsing Richard III. Richard is the lead actor and director in the vein of Edwin Forrest or Edmund Kean with the showmanship of an entrepreneur like P.T. Barnum, unafraid of exploiting human vulnerability for his own gain. The powerful actor-managers of the mid-19th century wielded tremendous control over their companies and leveraged their performances of iconic Shakespearean roles to make a name for themselves. This reliance on a finely curated public image is not unlike politicians today, who are keenly aware of the influence that a carefully fabricated public persona can wield—regardless of facts and reality. Theatre artists and politicians alike must excel at reading a room, diving into the “now-ness” of a moment to keep their audiences engaged. To what lengths will they go to keep the crowd enthralled?

Our concept is a means of engaging with painfully relevant questions from a perspective that only comes with hindsight. In this production, we look back through a telescopic lens of history, conjuring this 1850s theatrical troupe of players as they stage a play written in the 1590s telling a story from the 1480s. As we peel back layers of history, my hope is to invite our audiences to examine destructive patterns of human behavior. This examination helps us wrestle with the major questions of the play: how does a tyrant come to power? What role does each individual in a society play in the rise of a tyrant?

As the old adage goes, if we don’t learn from history, we’re doomed to repeat it.

—Wendy Franz, Director

Shakespeare, Kingship and Writing for the Queen

Shakespeare’s history plays tell the story of Queen Elizabeth I’s claim to the throne of England. Her right to rule was derived from her father and her grandfather, Henry VII—also known as Henry Tudor—whose defeat of Richard III on Bosworth Field and marriage to Elizabeth of York ended the Wars of the Roses. The Colorado Shakespeare Festival has been telling this story continuously since our production of Richard II in 2013.

In Richard II, Shakespeare portrays a king who believes utterly in his divine right to rule, but who is also completely disconnected from his people and his country. Richard’s contemplations on kingship offer beautiful poetry and interrogative philosophy on a monarch’s purpose, while demonstrating the folly of neglecting the people.

In parts 1 and 2 of Henry IV, as well as in Henry V, Shakespeare interrogates kings who are of the people. Henry IV’s right to rule was questionable due to his having seized the crown from Richard II—plagued by doubts, he spent most of his reign defending himself. But in Prince Hal (the young Henry V), Shakespeare writes a monarch who comes from the people, who learns to rule well and who eventually leads his country to victory. He is fallible, but he fights for his country and England becomes stronger for it.

Henry VI is portrayed as an ineffective king: malleable, focused more on religion than politics and prone to “fits.” His weakness in battle and inadequate leadership open the door for the Yorkists: Edward IV is the epitome of the medieval king—decisive and a strong warrior—and although he’s perhaps a bit lecherous, his sexual vigor produces heirs for the kingdom.

But for Shakespeare, Edward is a stop on the way to Richard III, portrayed as a man who goes after the crown for personal gain. Richard’s tactics are commonly described as Machiavellian—intelligent, yet also ruthless and duplicitous. Whether Richard was a villain—whether he was as twisted, cruel and evil as Shakespeare claims—the playwright wrote him as the antagonist because Richard couldn’t have been a legitimate monarch, overthrown by Henry VII, Elizabeth’s grandfather.

Indeed, in order for Elizabeth’s reign to be legitimate, Richard’s needed to be illegitimate. And so Shakespeare writes Richard to “play the villain” against Elizabeth’s heritage—the tyrant driven by self-interest—while demonstrating over the course of eight plays the virtues and vices he perceives in the monarchy … and perhaps even in Elizabeth herself.

—Hadley Kamminga-Peck, PhD, Dramaturg


This production contains simulated violence.

Daily Camera

"An electric and engaging night of theater... [CSF's Richard III] makes stunning observations about the role of illusion in politics, but it's also careful to point out that even artifice can have a very real cost, and that spectacles for the sake of power can still carry permanent consequences."

A.H. Goldstein, Daily Camera

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"While any version of Richard III is only as good as the actor playing the infamous conniver, a solid supporting cast is necessary for any of the extraordinary machinations to be believable. Fortunately, this production has both."

Ginny Quaney, PlayShakespeare.com

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Last Syllable

"I will begin by saying that I loved this show. Director Wendy Franz went all in on the concept, and it was executed beautifully."

Mac MacDaniel, Last Syllable Press

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Boulder Magazine

"As portrayed by the ever brilliant Rodney Lizcano, [Richard] is sly but witty, despicable but charming, and understandably ambitious. The night belongs to Rodney—a WOW factor of 8!!"

Beki Pineda, Boulder Magazine

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"This is a play I find myself admiring more with each production I see for its mixture of nasty, almost-rollicking humor and bloodthirsty horror, as well as the fast-moving plot line and astonishing energy and brilliance of the language."

Juliet Wittman, Westword

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Colorado Drama

"Director Wendy Franz and Rodney Lizcano, as Richard III, find a marvelous balance between the tragic and comedic elements—Richard's complete ruthlessness and depravity versus the sadly comedic means by which he manipulates people, and gleefully shares with us in a running series of asides. Lizcano's ease at moving between dark, amoral duplicitousness and light, mocking cynicism alternatively draws gasps and laughs from the audience."

Bob Bows, Colorado Drama

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CU Presents, "Rodney Lizcano plays the villain"

“I think a lot of actors are attracted to Richard III because of the huge range of emotion the character undergoes—whether feigned or not. Between that and the words and imagery, the meter and punctuation … there’s a lot of meat on the bone. It’s an actor’s dream.”

Rodney Lizcano (Richard III)

Learn more - CU Presents, "Rodney Lizcano plays the villain"

CU Presents, "Time's Up, Me Too, and the women of 'Richard III'"

"Richard III is a particularly timely exploration of gender and politics, as well as the different ways people pursue power. Betty Hart, playing Queen Elizabeth in her CSF debut, adds, 'When the situations get bad, the men fracture, they fight, they form factions … [But] the women unite. They work together. They comfort and support. Ultimately that strategy leads to the downfall of Richard.'”

CU Presents

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CU Presents

It’s amazing to think we began [the Henriad cycle] in 2013 with "Richard II." Five years and eight plays later, we’re concluding this story with the most delightfully horrible supervillain ever, taking us on a ride through his world.

Timothy Orr, Producing Artistic Director

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Daily Camera

"Richard III," which will be presented in the CU indoor theater for the first time, delves into the most unsettling consequences of political ambition.

A.H. Goldstein, Daily Camera

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Wendy Franz

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Elena Sayeedi

Ensemble/Lady in Waiting/Alderman/Soldier

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Alex Rosenthal


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Luka Teodoru

Prince Edward

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Augie Reichert

Little Richard, Duke of York

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Kaiyane Arabian

Little Lady

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Kyle Chesney


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Mike Largent

Rivers/Soldier/Alderman/Faceless Ghost

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Anne Penner


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Leraldo Anzaldua

King Edward IV/Bishop of Ely/Alderman/Soldier/Faceless Ghost/Fight Choreographer

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Austin Terrell


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Sean Scrutchins*


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Rodney Lizcano*

Richard III

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Lindsay Ryan

Lady Anne

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Jihad Milhem*

Clarence/Earl of Oxford/Mayor of London

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Christian Ray Robinson

Dorset/Second Murderer/Messenger/Alderman/Soldier

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Sam Sandoe

Catesby/First Murderer

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Coleman Zeigen


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Brian Kusic


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Betty Hart*

Queen Elizabeth

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Leslie O'Carroll*

Duchess of York

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Sam Gregory*


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View all cast

Artistic Team

Casting Director

Sylvia Gregory

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Scenic Designer

Caitlin Ayer^

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Costume Shop Manager

Adam M. Dill

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Sound Designer

Jason Ducat^

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Lighting Designer

Katie Gruenhagen

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Costume Designer

Markas Henry^

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Hadley Kamminga-Peck

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Stage Manager

Christine Rose Moore*

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Assistant Stage Manager

Darion Ramos*

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Erika Randall

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Assistant Sound Designer

Bailey Trierweiler

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