In the play “King Lear,” the title character’s identity gets stripped to nothing, and eventually, he finds a new path forward.
It’s a story akin to Pittsburgh’s, as the town’s identity as the Steel City transforms. So it’s only fitting that this new production of “King Lear” take place at the site of a blast furnace.
“The furnace is this really exciting echo of Pittsburgh’s identity as a steel city,” the show’s Director Risher Reddick said. “In the way that Pittsburgh had that slow process of stripping away that identity and finding its way forward, it echoes very beautifully the story of Lear.”
Quantum Theatre will perform “King Lear” at Carrie Furnaces, the now-defunct Swissvale blast furnaces — the only surviving pre-WWII blast furnaces in the country. The curtain, so to speak, will rise on May 10 for several weeks of performances held on Wednesday through Sunday evenings through June 2.
Though the site has been home to art exhibits and concerts, Quantum representatives believe this is the first theatrical performance at Carrie Furnaces. The performance is the result of a partnership between Rivers of Steel, Carrie Furnaces, and Quantum Theatre.
Over the years, guerilla artists snuck into Carrie Furnaces and made art there — actor Jeffrey Carpenter (who plays Lear) among them.