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Seize The King’ Has World Premiere At La Jolla Playhouse

Will Power’s play inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘Richard III

'Seize the King' Offers 'Richard III' for Modern Audiences

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Will Power, 'Seize the King' playwright

Beth Accomando, KPBS arts reporter

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La Jolla Playhouse is hosting the world premiere of Will Power’s new play “Seize the King,” which reimagines Shakespeare’s “Richard III” for a modern audience.

Like many people, Power was introduced to Shakespeare in school and didn’t initially connect to 400-year-old plays. But as he gained more life experience he found the plays more interesting and was interested in finding the relationship between the classics and contemporary texts.

Power said that it is the times we are in now that inspired him to revisit “Richard III” to see what it had to say for a contemporary American audience.

“I have always been a playwright that goes to big questions,” Power said. “So I think the times we’re in right now, the polarization, the dysfunction, the corruption that exists in society right now, in our country. I think sometimes to explore what’s going on today, particularly in extreme times, you have to go back to the past and imagine what those old stories are for today.”

He added, “How can I write original works that speak to the past but shine light on today. I would say that ‘Richard III’ and my play is necessarily any one person of today. It’s not that. I am interested in these human virtues and these human faults that continue to pop up in our existence as humans no matter what the gender is, what the ethnicity is.”

Photo caption: The cast of "Seize the King" is called upon to play multiple roles in a retel...

Photo credit: La Jolla Playhouse

The cast of "Seize the King" is called upon to play multiple roles in a retelling of Shakespeare's "Richard III."

What appealed most to him about Shakespeare is the rhythm of his language. Even if you take away the words, the beat of the iambic pentameter conveys emotion. He points to rappers today as carrying on that tradition of poetry through the rhythm of language.

For “Seize the King,” Power writes in his own version of iambic pentameter to give a play that is not quite period, not quite contemporary but rather a little of both. There is no actual Shakespearean text but the Bard is a definite inspiration in a work what is all Power.

The play is directed by Playhouse Associate Artistic Director Jaime Castañeda and the cast features Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Julian Parker, Jesse Perez, Luis Vega and Jenapher Zheng along with drummer Richard Sellers.

Seize the King” opens today and runs through Sept. 16 at the La Jolla Playhouse.

La Jolla Playhouse is hosting the world premiere of Will Power’s new play “Seize the King,” which reimagines Shakespeare’s “Richard III” for a modern audience.

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