Podcast: Geoffrey Kent and Benjamin Bonenfant of DCPA, Colorado Shakes

Episode 174 of our Running Lines Audio Podcast:

Actors Geoffrey Kent and Benjamin Bonenfant are well-known to DCPA and Colorado Shakespeare Festival audiences. But the summer of 2015 marks their rites of passage into playing significant (if very disparate) Shakespearean leaders. 

Kent is playing the villain Iago, Shakespeare’s largest role, in Othello, while Bonenfant is playing the rapscallion prince-turned-warrior in Henry V. While the roles span the moral gamut, both characters use honor as a weapon of persuasion. Iago uses talk of honor as a cloak to disguise his ill-intent to exact his revenge on Othello. And in Henry V, the dapper king uses honor as a justification for what has come to be seen in modern times as a perhaps most unjust war.

The pair talk with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist and Running Lines host John Moore about their particular acting challenges and character justifications, including this one-of-a-kind quote from Kent talking about Iago’s motives: “Iago is not interested in getting things ‘evensies.’ He wants to be ‘winsies, no-take-backsies.’ ”

In the conversation, Moore points out that while the word “honor” is mentioned 42 times in Othello, the word “heaven” is actually invoked far more often, clocking in at 72. Kent then mentions the preponderance of the word “honesty” in the script as well. “Honor, honesty, heaven: They are all ‘H’ words,” Kent says. “Shakespeare likes alliteration.”

Kent’s ties to the DCPA go back to 1999. He is not only the Theatre Company’s resident Fight Director, he has performed in Richard III, Hamlet and others. He will be seen next season in Kent Thompson’s As You Like It. In Boulder, he is currently tied with Sam Sandoe as the longest continuous member of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival at 13 consecutive seasons.

Bonenfant’s DCPA credits include Benediction, Hamlet, A Christmas Carol and When We Are Married. He will be back next season in A Christmas Carol.

The pair are just two of the recognizable names from the DCPA performing or working at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival this summer. “Sam Gregory is tearing it up both as a pretty damn racist Brabantio in our Othello, and as our narrator for Henry V,” says Kent. Bonenfant adds: “You’ll also get to see (DCPA Head of Acting) Larry Hecht (as Fluellen in Henry V). This is going to be his last performance in Colorado before he moves to the West Coast and we have to say goodbye to him.”

Other recent Theatre Company actors performing in Boulder this summer include Peter Simon Hilton, Rodney Lizcano, Benaiah Anderson, Mare Trevathan and Martha Harmon Pardee. Going back in time, the long list of  actors that both companies have in common also includes Annette Helde, Jane Page, Annette Bening, John Hutton, Kim Staunton, and Leslie O’Carroll. 

Many of the Theatre Company’s core technicians are summering in Boulder as well, including sound designer Jason Ducat, stage manager Matthew Campbell and assistant stage managers Paul Behrhorst and Kristen Littlepage.

The running time of the podcast is 11 minutes.

Podcast Outtake:

As the conversation continued beyond the allotted podcast time, Kent spoke of the special ongoing relationship between the DCPA and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

“Having been here a long time, it’s kind of profoundly dynamic,” Kent said, “and I hope that it gives in both directons. Because while both companies do Shakespeare, and they both put their particular spins on it, we share artists and keep these Colorado artists here and employed.”

2015 Colorado Shakespeare Festival: Ticket information 

  • Now playing: Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, Wittenberg, Henry V and Henry VI, Part One
  • Dates: Through Aug. 9 in the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre and University of Colorado Mainstage Theatre
  • Tickets are available at coloradoshakes.org or by calling 303-492-8008
  • The box office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and is located in the University Club on the CU-Boulder campus.

Geoffrey Kent plays Iago and Benjamin Bonenfant plays Heny V in high-profile Colorado Shakespeare Festival productions of Othello' and 'Henry V.' Photo by John Moore.

Geoffrey Kent plays Iago and Benjamin Bonenfant plays Heny V in high-profile Colorado Shakespeare Festival productions of Othello’ and ‘Henry V.’ Photo by John Moore. 

Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2015 Colorado Shakespeare Festival:
2015 Colorado Shakes: Tried and true; black and blue-blooded
Sandoe siblings have the Bard in their Boulder blood
Our tragic, universal flaw: We are all Othello

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