Some creatives seem to have their hands in so many different projects that we can’t help but wonder if they’ve been blessed with a superhuman gift or discovered a mysterious way to create more hours in the day. The collective work of director/producer Richard Kenyon, which spans the gamut and includes award-winning films, PSAs and high profile theatre productions, is one that begs the question: How does one man accomplish so much?
Earlier this year Kenyon produced, directed and co-wrote the film A Girl’s Guide to Drowning starring Young Artist Award nominee Alexis Rosinsky from the films My Best Friend and The Archer, as well as the Golden Globe Award winning series Modern Family.
A Girl’s Guide to Drowning brings to the screen a story about the drastic manner in which a young woman tries to cope after a painful breakup with her boyfriend. Based on the character of Ophelia from William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet,” who is as tragic as she is iconic, Kenyon’s newest film is a modern take on a classic play, which he says is, “proof positive that Shakespeare is relevant in the 21st Century.”
The film, which is expected to screen at festivals around the world later this year, is one that Kenyon has wanted to make for many years, but only came to full fruition after a chance meeting with Alexis Rosinsky, who plays the lead character in the film.
Kenyon recalls, “My wife and I were at a dinner party and Alexis performed a monologue from Ophelia and it blew us away. She was 13 years old at the time and I have never witnessed a more natural talent than the way she spoke Shakespearean text. So my wife and I went home and wrote ‘A Girl’s Guide To Drowning’ for Alexis.”
Considering his long-standing passion for Shakespeare’s work, and his ability to craft a story that hits home with modern audiences, A Girl’s Guide to Drowning was the perfect film for Kenyon to direct.
A highly sought after director, Kenyon is also in pre-production with the film Measure for Measure, a feature based on Shakespeare’s play of the same name, which he will be producing and directing. The storyline for the film revolves around a nun who’s propositioned by a high-ranking official and faced with the decision to lose her virginity in order to save the life her brother, or do nothing and keep her chastity intact. With Kenyon behind the wheel, there’s no doubt that Measure for Measure will do justice to Shakespeare’s original play, while also appealing to the palettes of modern audiences.
“To say this film is my opus is really an understatement. I have been around this play for my entire adult life. I saw a production of it at Stratford Canada in 1992 and it hasn’t left my mind. It starred the amazing Colm Feore and a young actress by the name of Elizabeth Marvel-who now both appear in ‘House of Cards’,” explains Kenyon. “Since that day I have directed the play twice and have been in it so I know the power it has in for an audience.”
In addition to Measure for Measure, Kenyon is also busy laying the groundwork for the upcoming film Some Day, a biographical tale about the struggles he personally faced as a child when he and his family moved from England to Canada, which is slated to begin shooting in Canada at the end of the year. If his plate wasn’t full enough already, he will also be directing the upcoming horror film Branded, as well as the film Ice Cream.
A film about the penal system, which focuses on the way seemingly simple decisions are overwhelmingly difficult for prisoners as they try to assimilate back into society after being released from the system, Ice Cream is expected to begin shooting in Barcelona at the end of summer.
“It is unlike anything that I have ever been offered before which was the real attraction. I love being challenged by my work otherwise why do it,” says the director about the upcoming film.
Kenyon’s directing career, which stretches back over the past three decades, first began back home in Canada in the late ‘80s when he directed “The Actor’s Nightmare” performed at the Alberta One Act Play Festival. His love for the theatre and his unparalleled talent as a director eventually lead Kenyon to serve as the artistic director and co-founder of several prestigious theatre companies, including The Shakespeare Company (TSC), Shakespeare in the Mountains and Knights in Waiting.
Over the years Kenyon has directed innumerable iconic plays including “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which was performed to sold out audiences during TSC’s inaugural summer season, “Richard the Third,” which received rave reviews for its ingenuity, “Cyrano de Bergerac” by Edmond Rostand, and more.
He says, “There is something very unique and exciting when an actor steps onstage and performs. A bond is made with the audience and they aren’t afraid to tell you how they feel. That is thrilling.”
While he’s achieved extensive success as a producer and director in the film world, with his first film Insomniac winning the award for Best Overall Score at the AMPIA Rosie Award as well as being nominated for the Best Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Drama Awards, the theatre is something Kenyon says, “never leaves you.”
This summer he will be directing the production of “Hamlet” produced by the Lovers and Madmen company, which will be performed at several venues throughout Pasadena. He is also directing and producing the upcoming production of “The Curious Mind of Will Shakespeare,” an immersion show that will take audiences into the exciting world of Shakespeare and is slated to run at the Shakespeare Club Villa of Pasadena on October 26, 27 and 29.
Maynard Brenes, who served as the director of photography on A Girl’s Guide to Drowning, says, “Richard’s theatre background is probably his most valuable asset to directing that he brings to the table day in and day out. Part of the creative puzzle is being able to communicate with talent and having that background is invaluable. His work speaks for itself.”
In addition to his film and theatre work, Richard Kenyon has also made a huge mark in the entertainment industry as the producer and director of several riveting PSAs, such as The Keys, which earned an AMPIA Rosie Award Nomination for Best PSA in 2015, as well as the “Pason Systems” PSA, which earned him an AMPIA Rosie Award Nomination for Best Producer in 2008.
Driven to create new and enticing work at every turn, Kenyon says “Stagnation is the death of art.”
Anyone who’s had a glimpse of Kenyon’s work over the years would easily conclude that he is definitely one creative genius who’s never stagnated, and with four new films in the works, it’s doubtable that he ever will!