Former King’s Student Appears in Royal Shakespeare Company’s King Lear

Jube Charles recently appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of King Lear as a member of the chorus. The production ran from April 12 to April 29, 2018.

Jube Charles
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Jube Charles, who attended The King’s College during the 2010-11 academic year, recently appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of King Lear as a member of the chorus. The production ran from April 12 to April 29, 2018.

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is among the world’s most famous theater companies. It is based in Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare’s birthplace, and for the last fifty years has performed the plays of Shakespeare and other great theatrical works in the United Kingdom and around the world. For this year’s production of King Lear, the primary actors came from England to New York City, and the RSC auditioned actors to perform in the background roles, including the chorus.

Jube has spent years developing his passion for the performing arts. When he was living in Florida, he went to a performing arts high school called New World School of the Arts. After moving to Brooklyn in the middle of his high school career, he attended a school which had no theater club and did no plays. After a time at this school, Jube knew that he needed to find a place where he could continue to develop his love of theater. “I heard of a performing arts [high] school in the city, Repertory School for the Performing Arts, and I auditioned for it,” he says. He graduated from Repertory in 2005.  

Jube attended The King’s College during the 2010-11 school year. It was a deeply formative experience, he says. “My time at King’s opened my eyes to a side of academia I had not been exposed to. Socrates, Plato, the Council of Nicea: all of these were things I had heard of, but it wasn’t until attending King’s that I delved further into them.” He is a member of the House of Ronald Reagan, which he notes is “the best House, for sure.” To this day he maintains some of the friendships he developed through the House. Though in 2011 he left King’s to pursue other opportunities, Jube says, “My time at King’s is still a vital part of my life today.”

After leaving King’s, Jube traveled and did missionary work in Zambia, Ghana, India, and Puerto Rico. He also continued growing as an artist and a performer, performing spoken-word poetry throughout New York City and working on writing his own scripts for both stage and film. “Writing alone keeps me pretty busy!” he says.  

Jube Charles

In the RSC’s production of King Lear, Jube says, the chorus functioned as “Lear’s Knights.” He found the production, directed by Gregory Doran, to be unique and intriguing. He was especially interested by one particular touch, “a glass box in which vital action takes place,” giving new dimensions to an already multi-faceted play. “I spoke to a few actors who’ve seen King Lear productions elsewhere and they said they’ve never seen it [the glass box] done before,” he says. “The glass box is risky, primarily because the actor’s voice would be muffled, but they made it work.”

Jube found that the experience of acting in King Lear gave him a much richer grasp of the play than simply reading it. “Like many of Shakespeare’s plays, it has to be seen in order to be fully understood.” He recalls that for his audition, he was asked to read Lear’s famous “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!” monologue.

At the time, the words might as well have been Mandarin. I was totally unfamiliar with the meaning and the context. I actually read King Lear in Dr. Campbell’s Creative Writing class but had to be reminded by Dr. Campbell of that when he came to see the show.

But after he saw the play brought to life by actors on the stage, heard the dialogue spoken aloud, and saw the relationships played out physically, “it all made sense.” One of the things he particularly appreciates about King Lear is the multiplicity of meanings that come from the language. “Someone who says King Lear is about failed fatherhood can be just as spot-on as someone who says it is about the consequences of poor leadership.” This is because, like all great literature, the play “is rich with all the innate nuances of human nature.”  

Now that King Lear is over, Jube is focusing on on his own scripts. He is currently editing his first feature-length film, called Sunsets In the Congo, and is getting ready to start filming his first short film, Salam. “I’ll still be auditioning,” he says, “but since I’m primarily a writer, I’ll be very selective in the roles I audition for.” However, his experience with the RSC has whetted his appetite for Shakespearean productions, and he hopes to work with the RSC again in the future. “Hopefully one day I’ll go from being in the chorus to being a part of the main ensemble!” he says.

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