From the Director
From the Director
Welcome to King Lear. An epic play that has been studied, dissected, and performed many times over. There is very little new to say, so I write to you about our experience with King Lear. This play is about the stripping away of one man’s power and person, his family’s facade, and the structure of the world as he knew it. In this stripping away of order, the heart of each character is revealed, and what they are willing to do to survive.
We see sacrifice and service in a few, we see great cruelty and hatred in some, and we see the opportunists rise to the fore, given the chance.
King Lear is not just about a man or a family, but about a world that through division has been set on a 45-degree plane, where its characters are trying to re- gain a new balance, like sitting on a fault line waiting for the next eruption. Fear and trust become the strongest contenders in this world and civility and grace (that had once been customary) are trampled upon by greed, lust and cruelty. Lear, a once feared and great King, breaks apart before our eyes and his wounds leak and spill on those loyal to him.
The level of cruelty in this play begs the question…why? What has taken place in the past that has given cause for such destruction?
In Act 1: Scene 1, after Lear divides his kingdom, banishes Kent and disowns Cordelia, Regan speaks of Lear, “…yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself, “ Is this one clue that has he lived a life of no awareness outside of himself? We also see in Act 3: Scene 6, after anatomizing the imaginary body of Regan, Lear says, “…see what breeds about her heart. Is there any cause in nature that make these hard hearts?”
It is only the virtuous actions of the heart that can make the plane of the world balance again, bringing back civility, grace and honor as a fruit of sacrifice and love. These actions to “right the world” cost the characters, in some cases battling members of their own family. In the end, Edgar says, “speak what we feel, not what we ought to say”, the true heart is the one voice that can unmask the cruel and hard of heart; thereby disabling the forces of destruction.
Thank you for joining us for this, our first King Lear and this celebration of Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary of his life and death. We wish you and yours peace and health.
Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful. Measure for Measure