On its tenth anniversary, the Red Pear Theatre Company in Vieux Antibes, folded. It was the only production company on the French Riviera devoted to performances in the English language. Hilary King, President and Artistic Director, disbanded the theater she cofounded with husband Roy in January 1995, due to his illness. The last performances, January 21 and 22 2005, featured Kit and the Widow doing Tomfoolery, with Dillie Keane. Established in 1995 as a non-profit to bring professional English language theater to the Riviera on a regular basis, Red Pear called Theatre Antibea home. It shared space with that host French theater. Ticket sales there and on tours were main sources of support along with workshops given by visiting actors as well as in local schools by "regulars."
Audiences were composed mainly of attendees at International schools, area students, and expatriates along the Cote d'Azur. Local drama associations were among sponsors of special and regular events. Typical of Red Pear's hosting, it welcomed Dear Conjunction of Paris last November to December. Someone to Watch Over Me, directed by Patricia Kessler, had "a typical successful run," according to Hilary King. Other co-productions with Dear Conjunction were The Owl and the Pussycat and Art. Irish plays, such as Stones in His Pockets, always proved popular. Among other favorites were The Santaland Diaries, Canaries Sometimes Sing, Oleanna, Noel and Gertie and The Dumb Waiter. Well-know actors who appeared at Red Pear included Prunella Scales, Timothy West, Jane Lapotaire, Sheridan Morley, Barry Lynch, and Victor Spinetti.
It was Colin George of the RSC who encouraged his friend Hilary King to establish her theater. She had known many actors from her acting studies in London, her work at Tokyo Theatre for Children, her co-founding of a mystery dinner theatre in Hong Kong, and as a working journalist.
Kit and the Widow, popular UK Cabaret artists, were among the most frequent performers at the Red Pear. Since closing the theater, Gerald Finzi ("Widow" pianist) and Kit Hesketh-Harvey (baritone) have been touring with Tomfoolery back home. They hope to play in London's West End in the fall. Theatre Antibea (Domonique Czapski, Artistic Director) remains open, mainly to its own productions in French but will host English language and bilingual ones as the occasions arise.
On a grander scale, the political leaders of Antibes are discussing building a new civic theater. Meanwhile, for the general public, from May 27 to 29, 2005, the Old Town will host a Street Theater Festival.



Key Subjects: 
Red Pear Company, Hilary King, Theater Antibea, Kit and the Widow, Dear Conjunction Theater Company
Marie J. Kilker
Writer Bio: 
Marie J. Kilker is a semi-retired academic (Ph.D.), an award-winning advisor, a teacher of English, journalism, speech, and theater history; a longtime freelance writer, researcher, grands project development specialist; a member of IATC, ATCA, TCG.
May 2005