‘King Lear: The Podcast Series,’ a twist on traditional theater, released this month

This year, Concordia’s Liberal Arts College overcame challenges to produce their annual play

Concordia’s Liberal Arts College puts a twist on a Shakespeare in their five-part podcast series. Courtesy ‘King Lear: The Podcast Series’

King Lear: The Podcast Series, an audio version of the Shakespearian play King Lear, is set to be released Sept. 30 as a five-part podcast series.

Through this podcast, students from Concordia’s Liberal Arts College have added a modern twist to the classical play with the help of voice acting.

The Liberal Arts College at Concordia University puts on a play every year. It’s a chance for students to impress the public. This year, however, like many things, the play looked different as it came to life in a podcast format.

Due to safety restrictions caused by the pandemic, the idea of producing a live play quickly changed into a film, which later developed into a podcast.

‘King Lear: The Podcast Series’ will be available on all streaming platforms as of Sept. 30. Courtesy ‘King Lear: The Podcast Series’

“We wrote a lot of the shot list for the film. It’s very difficult letting go of an original idea,” said Aleah Carreau, producer and King Lear actress. “You do what’s best for the sake of the project, not, ‘Oh, we’re just going to do [...] this because I really love what I made.”

Even though the podcast was not the original plan for the project, Carreau explained she was happy to see the play come to life, no matter the format. The play is about an aging King who, while deciding on how to divide his kingdom, makes a love game between his three daughters.

Antonina Morris, director, script editor and actress who plays Albany, helped record the play. She followed COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, and brought a microphone from actor to actor. Morris explained that while King Lear is a play from the early 1600's, certain elements that have symbolic aspects can change through time. 

“Themes from the play are still relevant. People see [the play’s themes] as not taking care of your parents or the older generation, especially during COVID,” said Morris. In this sense, the play’s themes can be seen as a reflection of actual scenarios people are currently experiencing.

One of the play’s main themes is loyalty. Although King Lear loses his power, his true friends remain loyal to him. “We really leaned on that aspect–that poverty leads you to friendship. It’s when you don’t have anything, like reputation [...] that you can actually still have true friends,” said Morris. “That’s the element we took, but I’m sure people will interpret it in different ways.” 

‘King Lear: The Podcast Series’ will be available on all streaming platforms as of Sept. 30. Courtesy ‘King Lear: The Podcast Series’

While King Lear is a play full of male roles, Carreau explained it was difficult to cast it because a lot of women auditioned. Furthermore, it is a play with only three female characters. 

“We decided to just do it completely gender fluid and just disregard the genders, without changing any of the pronouns. The characters are originally what they should be,” said Carreau.

“It was a different dynamic [...] that gave more integrity to our interpretation,” she added. “We’re not trying to be feminist. Theatre is a female-dominated thing, and women came to us.” 

So Young Park, production assistant and the actress who plays The Fool, brought forward the suggestion to have women play male roles. “I was super excited to hear [...] about gender fluidly in this theater project. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to sign up to be The Fool,’” Park said.

After more than a year of preparation, King Lear: The Podcast Series will be coming out Sept. 30 on all podcast streaming platforms. Featuring custom music, sound effects and a captivating storyline, this podcast series has it all! You can find the trailer on YouTube and stay updated on their Instagram.