Shakespeare’s Tricky Dick Gets Bitten By the Kitchen Dog

Richard III -- he’s the one with the hump, right? The hump and the attitude. Not a happy guy for sure. But a surprisingly funny king, even in one of Shakespeare’s bloodiest plays.

Kitchen Dog Theater likes to shake up their Shakespeare. For their new production of Richard III, opening a five-week run beginning tomorrow, they’ve cut an hour out of the script (thank you!) and built a “steam-punk” set in the small black box theater. They’ve also cast a director in the lead and let one of KDT’s leading actors, Ian Leson, do the directing.

Much more after the jump -- including video from rehearsals, an Unfair Park exclusive.

Playing Richard, one of Shakespeare’s greatest villains, is René Moreno, Dallas theater’s most revered director of dramas, musicals and comedies. He has won every award in town about 10 times over, including Best of Dallas honors. He’s known as an exacting taskmaster, with an eye for detail so acute he tells actors how to move their fingers and when to breathe.

He can throw a little attitude too when he wants to. Like when you ask him about a certain local magazine’s recent profile that used the archaic words “wheelchair-bound” in the headline and “crippled” in the story. “The 'crip' word,” says Moreno, “is like writing `the Negro actress.’ They even put `crippled’ in boldface type.”

Moreno has used a wheelchair since a 1991 freak accident in Washington, D.C., that involved a good deal of alcohol and a fall from a fifth-floor window into a flowerbed. It was after the accident that he finished grad school at SMU and started his directing career. He’s such a busy director he rarely has time to act anymore. It was in late 2006 that he and Leson started talking about doing Richard III together.

It’s hard to generate buzz about the Bard anymore. But there’s big buzz about Moreno and Leson’s Richard III. We thought you’d like to meet these guys and get a taste of what they’re doing with the show, so we brought our camera to a rehearsal this week. --Elaine Liner

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky