Drama Teacher Stars in Local Production of King Lear

by St. Andrew's Communications Staff
When he isn’t busy teaching St. Andrew’s students the fundamentals of theater, or directing the forthcoming spring musical “Cabaret,” drama teacher Ritchie Porter is perfecting his craft as an actor with the Lumina Studio Theatre in Silver Spring.
Porter takes the stage this weekend in Lumina’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” Porter plays Kent, one of Lear’s trusted advisors who remains by his king’s side in disguise after being banished. Reviews for the show have been strong with Porter receiving glowing praise for his performance.
 
“What I like about Kent is that he’s loyal and he’s kind and he stays with Lear until the end,” Porter said. “He’s one of the few good people in the play—and also one of the few that survives.”
 
Porter has been cast in Lumina productions for the past eight years, but this is the first time he’s performed in “King Lear.” He said he’s enjoyed the challenges of the role, including the change in character when he assumes his disguise.
 
“There are a lot of different levels of emotion I have to tap into—a more formal personality in the beginning, but once I get banished I have to change my physicality,” Porter said, adding that he takes on a new accent while in disguise.
 
“Kent, he’s always trying to fix things and make bad situations right, and the situation gets out of hand right away when Lear decides he’s going to step down,” Porter said. “I have to drive a lot of the scenes. I’m the one in control or having to hold things together, so the biggest challenge is keeping the energy and the pace up.”
 
Performing regularly, Porter said, helps him relate to his students and appreciate what they are able to achieve on stage as they balance their academic responsibilities.
 
“It would be easier not to be in a play, but the rewards are tremendous as far as the camaraderie, the self-esteem, the fun and just the opening up of one’s imagination,” Porter said. “There are times I ask myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ It just helps me remember how essential it is for the students to keep on trying these activities and to push themselves, even though they’re feeling overwhelmed with the many things they’re asked to do here.”
 
Rehearsing for Lumina productions also gives Porter ideas for theater games and exercises he can share with his students.
 
Porter can be seen in “LEAR” this Friday, Jan. 27 and Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Silver Spring Black Box, located at 8641 Colesville Road. Showtime is 7 p.m. Click here to buy tickets.
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St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private, coeducational college preparatory day school for students in preschool (Age 2) through grade 12, located in Potomac, Maryland.