Family ties on the URI stage: Mom, dad, daughter team up for Shakespeare on Providence campus

Posted on
KINGSTON, R.I. – June 3, 2014 – Theater is a family business. Just ask the Barrymores, Fondas and Redgraves. Now we have our own acting dynasty in Little Rhody.

Enter the Hawkridges, who are teaming up this summer to present Shakespeare and more at the University of Rhode Island’s Alan Shawn Feinstein campus in Providence.

The trio features dad Alan Hawkridge, a URI theater lecturer and production manager; mom Patricia Hawkridge, a 1981 graduate of Rhode Island College; and daughter Kira Hawkridge, a 2012 graduate of URI who is all too happy to hang with her parents.

“This is definitely a family affair,” says Kira. “It’s exciting for us to collaborate.”

Kira’s group, OUT LOUD Theatre, is teaming up with Patricia’s group, La Voce: Theatre That Speaks, to present Hamlet June 19, 20 and 21 on the Providence campus. OUT LOUD will present CRAVE by the late English playwright Sarah Kane June 26, 27 and 28, also in Providence. Dad is working alongside his wife as co-director of Hamlet.

All performances are free and open to the public.

The acting bug hit the Hawkridges at early ages. A native of London, Alan initially wanted to be a painter, but changed course when he built a set for a play. “They needed someone to step in a role, and the rest is history,” he says. In the 1980s, he moved to the United States, where he met Patricia. Both were working as teachers and actors at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

After a walk down the aisle, the two moved to Pawtucket – Patricia’s hometown – and Kira soon came along. She says she never felt any pressure to act and direct, but had a hunch as a child that she would go down the same path as her parents. Her first role was as a little girl in Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, directed by her mother. Kira was 8. “I loved it,” she says.

She went on to study acting and directing at URI, often with her father as her teacher. The two were so seasoned some classmates didn’t realize they were related. “We’re able to separate ourselves,” Alan says. “I think we have a very professional approach to the work.”

No question that it’s thrilling for the Hawkridges to collaborate. Patricia was chair of the theater department at Salve Regina University from 1999 to 2009 and is now dean of the arts at Beacon Charter High School For The Arts in Woonsocket.

“It’s so rewarding to work together,” says Alan. “We’re a close family and this just gives us a whole other area to explore.”

Kira, who is focusing more on directing, agrees. “It’s unusual to find a family that has taken the same path. To learn from each other is so important. I’ve been able to grow up with two professional theater artists.”

Plus, it’s really easy to find an actor. “Kira will say, ‘Dad, you want a part?’ ” jokes Alan.

Patricia says it’s rewarding to see her daughter grow as an actor and director. Mother and daughter were both destined for the stage, she says: Patricia was born at 8 p.m., curtain time, and Kira was born at intermission time, 9 p.m.

“It’s like passing a baton,” Patricia says. “It’s amazing to see what she’s achieved.”

The performances in Providence are part of the annual STATE OF THE ARTS, a celebration of the arts by faculty, staff and alumni at URI, RIC and the Community College of Rhode Island. The event highlights fine arts at the three schools and the work of alumni and faculty.

For more information or to reserve a free ticket, visit Out Loud Theatre or Event Brite. Seating is limited so get your ticket in advance.

The trio will work together again in the fall when Kira directs Metamorphoses at the Artists’ Exchange in Cranston. Mary Zimmerman’s play is based on Ovid’s myths.

“Something magical happens when we get together,” says Patricia. “It’s very exciting.”

Photo above. Left to right, Patricia Hawkridge, Kira Hawridge and Alan Hawkridge. Photo by Marc Tiberiis II.