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Former BSS student remembers her role as Lear

Katy Harding (née Sems) wrote this piece. She played the role of Lear in the Upper Canada College-Bishop Strachan School production of King Lear in 2006, performed in the David Chu Theatre. (In that year, the role of the Fool was also performed by a BSS student.) Katy attended a performance of this year’s production of King Lear and was introduced to Devin Lee, who played the king in this year’s production, Feb. 21 to 24.

Katy is now a successful television producer. She participated in the UCC-BSS classical plays from 2003-2006:Lear-Teddy and Ava

There was a time when I spent every waking hour in the David Chu Theatre.  I can navigate the stairs in the dark, know all backstage nooks and crannies and could pick out its signature scent in a line-up. It’s the place where incredible friendships were made, great stories re-enacted and endless possibilities explored. Let’s just say it was a very serious relationship.

Lear-photos_0014 (1)Our final year was intense. We dove into the tragedy of King Lear with fervour and played hard; we pushed through tough speeches, learned to fight with new weapons, wiped away blood and laughed in the snow — onstage snowfall was a first for us.  But after our final curtain call, it was over. Like many a great love, our time ran out and we had to part ways.

Except here we are again: tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow turns into 12 years later and on this stage the stories (and memories) are vivid as ever. It’s been awhile, but it’s easy to feel kinship and butterflies as the players hit their marks and Lear begins his descent. This time there’s a stone fortress and all new faces, but the same words come trippingly on the tongue. What magic it is to see this love come to life again for these talented performers. Some things just don’t change.

Before I know it, the house lights are back up. Adrenaline hangs in the air and, with a bit of melancholy, I know it’s time to exit. Now it’s impossible to separate memories from the present and that’s what makes it a little bit perfect. I have no doubt this troupe will look back on their time here with the same affection, as we still do — the cast and crew of 12 years ago. As I walk past the clock tower there’s nothing left but to smile. All these great loves; we’ll see each other again in different iterations, time after time.  Until then …