Kaite O’Reilly knocks Shakespeare for six with ‘richard III redux OR Sara Beer [IS/NOT] richard III’


Sara Beer is back and ready to rule as she takes on the role of king in The Llanarth Group’s reimagining of Richard III this spring. Written by award-winning playwright Kaite O’Reilly, director Phillip Zarrilli brings his latest production to venues across Wales in March 2018.

Sara Beer wears a golden crown and carries a stern pose at Richard III.

Sara Beer as Richard III

Richard III: Bogeyman. Villain. Evil incarnate. Or is he? What if he is she? What if the ‘hideous…. deformed, hobbling, hunchbacked cripple’ is portrayed by someone funny, female, feminist, and with the same form of scoliosis? How might the story change, the body change, the acting change, the character change when explored by a disabled actress with deadly comic timing and a dislike for horses? How would previous star vehicle Richards measure up? Olivier, McKellan, Pacino, Sher – watch out – the mighty richard III redux has you in the frame.

Riotously inventive and joyously irreverent, richard III redux is not a production of Shakespeare’s classic, but an interweaving of stories about acting, difference, and a maligned historical figure told by unreliable narrator Sara Beer. She takes on Richard as a solo performer in a number of guises, interspersed with video and live camera sequences. The production will premiere at Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2018.

Sara Beer said “I am extremely lucky to have worked with Kaite O’Reilly and Phillip Zarrilli on several projects over the years. Playing Richard III is not an opportunity I ever expected to arise but when Kaite suggested it as a way of exploring the many aspects of this much maligned character and the portrayal throughout history by non-disabled actors I jumped at the chance.

It is a hugely enjoyable process as well as a challenge like no other I have experienced. This production will be anything but traditional, but I am sure it will be thought provoking as well as entertaining.”

Kaite O’Reilly said: “It’s wonderful being able to work in Wales with Phillip Zarrilli, Artistic Director of The Llanarth Group – a director in such demand across the world, and on such a fascinating subject. Despite historical proof to the contrary, for hundreds of Years Richard III has been the embodiment of evil – the bogeyman smothering innocent children, his misshapen exterior reflecting a twisted inner psyche.

A long line of distinguished actors have used considerable ingenuity to portray this “twisted-body-twisted-mind” – and so effectively, a fear and distrust of physical difference has become ingrained.

Shakespeare has a lot to answer for – he had Richard III stitched up – and I want to unpick some of these stitches, to reconsider the historical impact of a the hellish ‘bottled spider’, and to have some fun with actorly depiction, deconstructing Richard with a female comedic performer, with a disability perspective. We want to raise questions about the representation of difference, as well as raising some laughs.”

Phillip Zarrilli said “richard III redux is a re-visitation of the problematic set of assumptions and premises on which Shakespeare (falsely) (mis)shaped his Richard as ‘a poisonous bunch-back’d toad’, ‘deform’d, unfinish’d…villain’. The performance will be a mosaic with alternative lenses/voices/roles through which Sara Beer’s ‘richard III’ will be re-mixed.

I loved working with Sara Beer on Kaite O’Reilly’s Cosy last year at Wales Millennium Centre, and to work with her again now on this production is an absolute delight. She lights up the stage.”

Kaite, Phillip and Sara have recently returned to Wales following a successful cultural exchange with disabled and Deaf artists in Singapore, commissioned by Unlimited and supported by the British Council and Arts Council Wales.

Richard III redux OR Sara Beer Is/Not Richard III tours Wales in March, playing Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, Aberystwyth Art Centre StudioTheatr Clwyd, Mold, The Torch Theatre, Milford Haven and Small World Theatre, Cardigan.

Kaite O’Reilly writes further on her play as a witty, feminist, alternative disability perspective on Shakespeare’s history play in Exeunt Magazine