king lear 2007


This production of King Lear is built upon 3 excellent productions by Michael Pigott, themselves informed by previous productions from our company.

Chance seems to have punished me with Lear, and Lear with me, as actor & director. Then again, it’s probably the most extraordinary drama ever written, & I discover something rich & strange at each encounter.

I’d like to make two points :

First, I firmly believe that Shakespeare, was a theatrical genius – a popular entertainer. That he is unmatched as a dramatic poet is beyond question. However the reverence that this excites too often overshadows his theatricality, his robust popular appeal (particularly in the anglophone world !).

So we’ve tried to celebrate the theatricality as well as the drama. In both instances, of course, one has to translate this 400 year old piece into terms accessible today. But I like to think that our theatricality is not gimmicky, as is often the case ; it’s grounded in the text and structure of the original.

Second, I find it hard to believe that Shakespeare was a theorist, a philosopher or theologian. He wrote and took part in plays which entertained, provoked, questioned & disturbed. He lived, as they say, in interesting times.

The play it seems to me, probes away at deeply troubling issues. In an epoch where the sense of self and its place in the cosmos was shifting in response to the spread of protestantism, of literacy, and of a suspicion that the earth  was not at the centre of things, basic questions arose : ‘who is it that can tell me who I am ?’ - ‘is man no more than this ?’ - is ‘unaccommodated man’ no more than ‘a poor, bare, forked animal’ ? ‘Is this the promised end ?’ Will ‘the gods defend her’ ?

And the inevitable corollary : what is woman ? Elizabeth I had just died childless. The denial of maternity provokes profound unease in this world dominated by fathers. Mothers are conspicuous by their absence. Sterility is a recurrent undertone. Shakespeare’s final stage image : a barren wasteland. 3 young women dead. Childless. Cursed by their father. Images of families, cities and countries laid waste by blind fools haunt us today, too. ‘In the land of the blind’*… Maybe it’s still a warning.

* Moir, SMH, most days…

director                           ASST Director
David Ritchie                        Belinda Hoare

design SET LIGHTS          Design Costumes
Tony Youlden                       Iris Holstein

John Calvi                            Kyle Rowling

Abigail Austin
Angela Bauer
Gertraud Ingeborg
Lee Jones
Peter Kowitz
James Lugton
Scarlett Ritchie
Maeliosa Stafford

5 - 26 May 2007