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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: December ::
Re: Queen Lear
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1226.  Thursday, 11 December 1997.

[1]     From:   Rosalind King <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Dec 1997 17:40:41 GMT0BST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1223  Qs: Queen Lear

[2]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Dec 1997 12:16:24 -0500
        Subj:   Queen Lear

[3]     From:   Peter S. Donaldson <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Dec 97 12:44:37 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1223  Q: Queen Lear

[4]     From:   David Skeele <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Dec 1997 12:55:26 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1223  Q: Queen Lear

[5]     From:   Werner Habicht <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Dec 1997 03:10:10 +0100
        Subj:   [Queen Lear]

[6]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Dec 1997 23:40:37 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1223  Qs: Queen Lear

[7]     From:   Peter Hillyar-Russ <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Dec 1997 10:03:16 -0000
        Subj:   Queen Lear


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rosalind King <
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Date:           Wednesday, 10 Dec 1997 17:40:41 GMT0BST
Subject: 8.1223  Qs: Queen Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1223  Qs: Queen Lear

I would much rather see a production of  Lear with a woman playing the
lead as a woman than one in which an incestuous relationship was played
out (invented?) between Lear and Cordelia. Indeed I've been tempted to
do one myself for some time - the former that is!

I saw the production with Kathryn Hunter in London earlier during the
summer - it had originated in a regional theatre in the north last
spring, West Yorkshire Playhouse, home of Jude Kelly, of Washington
Othello fame, though it wasn't her production but Helena Kaut-Howson's.
I was distinctly unimpressed but that was because the conception of the
play as a whole,  and particularly ironically enough the treatment of
the daughters, was really rather tired and conventional. The play became
a play within a play, in the mind of an old woman in a retirement home,
in order to preach the message that we, as a society, are unkind to our
old-folks. Hunter herself was playing a tour-de-force of 'oldness',
combined with 'maleness' which, for me, got in the way of her playing
the complexities of the part. It was much-hyped however.

Stick to your guns!

Best wishes,
Rosalind

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Wednesday, 10 Dec 1997 12:16:24 -0500
Subject:        Queen Lear

Dear Laurie Rae Dietrich: Your proposal to present Lear as what, in Tony
Blair's Britain, we term a 'lone mother' strikes me as courageous and
exciting. Head for London. Over here, she would find her benefits
sharply reduced, but that, to some degree, accords with the spirit of
the play.  Meanwhile, my own production, in which Lear is played by a
Speak-Your-Weight machine ('O you are men of thirteen stones') still
unaccountably fails to find a backer. They hate us youth.

Terence Hawkes

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter S. Donaldson <
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Date:           Wednesday, 10 Dec 97 12:44:37 EST
Subject: 8.1223  Q: Queen Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1223  Q: Queen Lear

There was an experimental production-actually titled Queen Lear, I think
-- in Edmonton; scenes of it will be included in the Open University
CDROM, edited by Lizbeth Goodman and Stephen Regan.  Kristin Linklatter
did a splendid Lear at Wellesley College last year with an all-woman
cast. Suzuki has done amazing things in his "Tale of Lear" which uses
all men-with the daughters as bearded 30 year olds. A woman in the lead
need not necessarily undermine the incestuous subtext, though it might
alter how the convergence of incest and patriarchy is approached. My
experience of Linklatter's production was that the enactment of
patriarchal arrogance and abuse was all the sharper for having a small
woman in the lead, and there was something of the matriarchal
too-somehow the fool survives, played by a young girl, suggesting a kind
of generational continuity.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Skeele <
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Date:           Wednesday, 10 Dec 1997 12:55:26 -0500
Subject: 8.1223  Q: Queen Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1223  Q: Queen Lear

Lee Breuer directed a production in N.Y. 3 or 4 years ago with Ruth
Maleczech (this spelling looks suspect-I may have just made it up)
playing Lear as a Southern matriarch.  Breuer also changed the three
daughters to three sons (and of course Albany and Cornwall to women).
This was indeed a controversial production but it was not without its
ardent supporters.  The N.Y. TIMES gave it a lot of press, as did the
VILLAGE VOICE.  I wish I could remember the exact date, but you can
probably find info on it easily enough.  Hope it helps!

 David Skeele
 Slippery Rock University

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Werner Habicht <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Dec 1997 03:10:10 +0100
Subject:        [Queen Lear]

In 1989/90 there were two productions - in German; but the directors had
come from America - of *King Lear* with female Lears (King Lears, not
necessarily Queen Lears). One, a collage-like adaptation directed by
George Tabori in Bregenz and Vienna (Theater Der Kreis), was re-titled
"Lear's Shadow" and intended to present Lear (played by Hildegard
Schmahl) as a "sickly, old, terrible tyrant and dirty old man who is
being transformed not only into a human being but into a good human
being" (Tabori in the program notes) - a psychodrama with an emphasis on
sexual aspects. The other was Robert Wilson's production at the
Schauspielhaus in Frankfurt, with Marianne Hoppe playing the title role,
who began the performance by reciting, as a motto, William Carlos
Williams's "The Last Words of My English Grandmother" ("...What are all
those fuzzy-looking things out there? Trees? Well, I'm tired of
them..."). Lear, despite her very old and fragile body, dominated the
scene with extraordinary facial expression - proud, grim, sarcastic,
tender, sad. Gender seemed irrelevant, especially in the context of
Wilson's theatrical artificiality.

There is a tape of the Robert Wilson production, though I don't know if
or how it is available; perhaps writing to the Schauspielhaus, Frankfurt
am Main, Germany, might help. Numerous reviews of both productions are
listed in *Shakespeare Jahrbuch (West)*, 1990, p.209 and 1991, p.217-8,
respectively.

W.H.

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Wednesday, 10 Dec 1997 23:40:37 -0500
Subject: 8.1223  Qs: Queen Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1223  Qs: Queen Lear

Some years back Mabou Mines did a much cut, 6-actor, 1-trunk version of
Lear with not only Lear but some of the other roles gender-reversed; it
had its moments, but the overall weirdness somewhat blurred the main
switch.  You can probably find reviews in NYT, Shakespeare Bulletin,
etc.

Dave Evett

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Hillyar-Russ <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Dec 1997 10:03:16 -0000
Subject:        Queen Lear

There was a production of King Lear given in the Haymarket Theatre,
Leicester, England during February/March 1997, with Kathryn Hunter in
the title role. The director was Helena Kaut-Howson.

I saw the production and considered it excellent - but for research
purposes anyone interested ought, perhaps, to contact the theatre direct
(44)116 253 9797.

It is a not commonly known fact that Leicester = Leir's Castrum, and is
believed to be the town in which the king lived and is buried.

Peter Hillyar-Russ

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