Dean Productions Theatre Company is jumping into its fifth season of free, family-friendly shows with the Shakespearean classic “King Lear,” which will be performed this fall in front of Brand Library in Glendale. While there are many companies that offer free Shakespeare in the park, what makes this one unique is its dedication to working with pediatric cancer patients and their siblings.
Artist Director Rebecca Lynne started Dean Productions in 2015 as a way to create theater that makes an impact. When she was a child, Lynne’s brother died of cancer. Lynne found solace in theater, where she was given the tools to express herself and build up her confidence. “The storytelling aspect allowed me to find control and expression in my chaotic world,” she says.
For each show they present, Dean Productions hosts the Theatre Bootcamp for Youth Affected by Cancer. In these camps, artists from the company’s current shows work on acting, playwriting and improv with kids ages 8-18 who have cancer or have a family member who has cancer.
During Dean Production’s run of “The Tempest,” the show’s actors worked with participants of the boot camp to create original 10-minute plays. The kids dreamt up characters, and the actors taught playwriting techniques to help them shape their narratives. For the rest of the run, actors from the company performed these 10-minute plays as the pre-show for the main event.
Lynne says theater can help children make sense of the chaos in their lives. “As they tell stories, they have complete control over the narrative,” she says. “They use stories to flesh out the intricacies of their lives and their emotions.” Dean Productions’ production of “King Lear” will run Sept. 26-Oct. 19. All performances will take place on the lawn of Brand Library, 1601 West Mountain St., Glendale. Tickets can be reserved at www.deanproductionstheatre.com.