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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: September ::
Re: Globe Lear
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2135  Monday, 10 September 2001

[1]     From:   Mary Jane Miller <
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        Date:   Friday, 7 Sep 2001 10:53:41 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2126 Re: Globe Lear

[2]     From:   Dan Smith <
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        Date:   Friday, 7 Sep 2001 17:50:46 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2126 Re: Globe Lear


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mary Jane Miller <
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Date:           Friday, 7 Sep 2001 10:53:41 -0400
Subject: 12.2126 Re: Globe Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2126 Re: Globe Lear

Thank you, Dan Smith, for your interpretation of the connotations of the
sand box. On the intellectual level of exploring the possibilities I
found them interesting but I think the practical onstage difficulties of
the piece did the play a disservice.

" As for ActV Sc.iii (if that is where it was) he is saying, "we can
live like this" but he is trying to build a house on sand like the
biblical allegory. " I'm sorry I wasn't more explicit - it was IV vii
Lear's waking into a fragile sanity where he was seated on a chair (as
the stage directions indicate) inside the sandbox . As I remember it,
the sandbox disappeared in Act V so your sense of its relevance to the
political and social circumstances remained unrealised. He was fully
clothed again in this scene and after

Reflecting on the comments of Laura Blankenship , Louis Swilley and
Graham Hall, especially about that dratted pole, I realize that my
primary problem with the production was that it was so literal - wheel
of fortune???  barn boards to darken the tone??and I agree that, for a
bit,  it was distracting to think about the actor as cold not Lear the
character.

On another note - the strings of lights around the roof edge were needed
given the darkness falling but again I found them distractingly pretty
and out of place for the Globe. There are so many challenges to playing
in that space.

I too saw an all male AYLI (in 1968  a time of androgynous  and
theatrical clothing). The genderbendering was memorable, not least
because my women friends were fascinated by the explicit observations on
how women speak and move while my men friends were distracted by the
'drag' connotations. There were, however, times in the production when
the play reasserted itself and the "tumbles" gave way to the other
concerns of the play.

In any case the Globe Lear fully engaged my neighbours, a gentleman who
had just lost his bid for election as MP and his wife, both theatre
goers but new to the Globe which they found really fascinating as a
space.

I agree. " How lucky can we be?"

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dan Smith <
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Date:           Friday, 7 Sep 2001 17:50:46 +0100
Subject: 12.2126 Re: Globe Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2126 Re: Globe Lear

Louis Swilley wrote:

"The Lear actor stripping is different, isn't it?  The audience is not
responsible but merely distracted, and now considers the plight of the
actor instead of that of Lear"

I am not sure I quite agree with the idea that Lear stripped is just a
distraction that adds nothing to the portrayal.  Lear is a man stripped
bare of everything, titles, power, sanity - to leave a bare
unacommodated man and this is a powerful symbol of that process.
Further, if Lear is played well then the violence of his rage and
misogyny ("But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter; Or rather a
disease that's in my flesh" II.iv etc.etc.) needs a counterweight to
emphasise his vulnerability otherwise a modern audience may lose all
desire to hope for him.  Stripping him emphasises his age also.  Julian
Glover is a vigorous man of late middle, rather than old, age but if
Lear were ever to be played by a man in his eighties, a proper
contemporary of Lear, then seeing age in its nakedness (rather than the
commonplace 'youth in its nakedness' - used to sell practically
everything) would emphasise that Lear's body (and hence his mind) have
been stripped by time before the play started. You could then have a
proper tension between a powerful body in the robes of state at the
opening of the play and a weak body on the blasted heath when stripped
of those trappings.  I suspect part of any unease may be the ridicule
implied by the resemblance of the loincloth to a nappy as in (Goneril)
"Old fools are babes again" I.iii.  Temporal power and mocked physical
weakness brings Monty Burns out of the Simpsons to mind here (Kent then
becomes Monty's devoted man Smithers of course). However, if stripping
Lear merely provokes the humour that stripping Monty does then perhaps
Louis Swilley is right - it may just be a distraction.

Laura Blankenship wrote:

> >what was that  pole and wheel for?
>
> According to Julian Glover, it was a wheel of fortune.  I like the
> torture wheel idea better.  Either way, I don't think it was used to
> good effect.

I don't see why it can't be both:

"Fortune turn thy wheel"

and

"Thou art a soul in bliss; but I am bound
Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears
Do scald like molten lead" (IV., vii.)

But I do tend to agree it doesn't quite work - if it was vertical rather
than horizontal, implying falling and rising then it might be better but
perhaps that would just remind the audience of a rustic version of the
London Eye close by.

Dan Smith

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