Meet our Earl of Gloucester: Charles Shaw Robinson

During the run of King Lear (Sep. 16–Oct. 11) we will be posting interviews with the cast to help our audiences get to know the men and women behind some of Shakespeare’s most tragic characters. What was the first role they ever played? What is their pre-show ritual? To find out, keep reading! 

Charles Shaw Robinson as the Earl of Gloucester in King Lear. Photo by Jay Yamada.

Charles Shaw Robinson as the Earl of Gloucester in King Lear. Photo by Jay Yamada.

Charles Shaw Robinson’s “clarity of language and thought make you wish he were in every Shakespeare play,” wrote Chad Jones in this Theater Dogs review of King Lear. The Juilliard-trained actor is close to granting his wish, having played Iago in Othello, Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, and Brutus in Julius Caesar here at Cal Shakes, plus the title roles in Hamlet at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and Pericles at Center Stage. He also played an incarnation of Shakespeare himself called Shag in Equivocation at the Marin Theatre Company. Here, the superior Shakespearean actor talks about his favorite role he’s every played (It’s a Shakespeare character of course!) and how to get a seat on a busy BART ride…

Where are you from?

I’m a local boy. San Francisco.

What do you think your King Lear character’s best quality is? Worst?

Best: kindness. Worst: lack of insight.

Favorite line in King Lear:

‘Tis the time’s plague, when madmen lead the blind.

First experience at a play, or musical:

I saw my first professional play at A.C.T.

First acting gig:

I played the Troll in Three Billy Goats Gruff in first grade.

Favorite role you’ve ever played:


Favorite Shakespeare play:

Much Ado About Nothing

Do you have pets? If so, what are they?

Does a teenage son count?

What shows/movies/books/art have you seen/read lately that have really spoken to you?

The novel, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel; and the Keith Haring exhibit at the de Young.

What is your pre-show ritual?

Eat dinner early, take a brief nap, read the play again.

What is your line memorization technique?

Mumble my lines aloud on BART—it always gets me a seat.

The one performance you’ve seen that you’ll never forget:

Anthony Hopkins in Equus on Broadway; or Fiona Shaw in Machinal at the National, London; or Janet McTeer in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House on Broadway.

King Lear runs through October 11. For tickets click here.


The Chron likes us, too.

Last week (and, hey—last year!) I let you know that we made it onto the year-end “best of” lists for both the East Bay Express and Theater Dogs. Today I’m happy to report that, over at the San Francisco Chronicle, Uncle Vanya made Robert Hurwitt’s Top Ten for 2008, and Cal Shakes was named “Most Improved” as a whole. (See previous blog entry for Theater Dogs and East Bay Express accolades.)

Thanks to everyone—audiences, critics, staff, and artists alike—for making 2008 such a magnificent year.


Two Best Ofs, two Honorable Mentions.

Cal Shakes productions got the nod from area theater wags this week–Chad Jones named Pericles his number 2 production of 2008 at Theater Dogs, Sam Hurwitt lauded Uncle Vanya as his number 4 in the East Bay Express, and both critics named An Ideal Husband in their lists of honorable mentions.

Stay tuned for the Chronicle‘s faves. And happy holidays from Cal Shakes! (And from this blogger, who’s actually blogging from home in her bathrobe, like a REAL blogger.)


Elijah Alexander Spills All About Brangelina, Jon Moscone, and the Tawdry World of Working Actors!!

Gotcha. The first preview for An Ideal Husband is tonight, and opening weekend is just a few lovely stumbling steps away.

So our own Lord Goring, Elijah Alexander, sat down for a great interview with Chad Jones. Read the article on Chad’s Theater Dogs blog (where, yes, there is a bit of chatter about Angelina Jolie) and get a bit more quotage for your cyber buck in his SF Examiner piece.

Stay tuned for more pictures from last night’s dress rehearsal, like the one at right, by Jay Yamada.