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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: May ::
Re: King Lear's Daughters
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1212  Wednesday, 1 May 2002

[1]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Apr 2002 19:05:24 -0400
        Subj:   Fw: SHK 13.1199 King Lear's Daughters

[2]     From:   Judi Wilkins <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 1 May 2002 17:17:36 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1199 King Lear's Daughters


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Apr 2002 19:05:24 -0400
Subject: 13.1199 King Lear's Daughters
Comment:        Fw: SHK 13.1199 King Lear's Daughters

By way of analogy: Charles Chaplin married for the last time at the age
of 54 (his wife, Oona O'Neill was only 18). After this particular
wedding he fathered several children with Oona (including actress
Geraldine Chaplin).  It's certainly possible for Lear to have had a
similar experience. The fact that Lear's youngest daughter is a "winter"
baby may even add an interesting dynamic to the old man's need for her
unconditional love.

Paul E. Doniger

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judi Wilkins <
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Date:           Wednesday, 1 May 2002 17:17:36 +1000
Subject: 13.1199 King Lear's Daughters
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1199 King Lear's Daughters

Jacob,

This is not real life; it is a play, therefore Shakespeare's characters,
like any other dramatist's creations, do not have a life outside that
which s/he allows them.  Why would you assume that Goneril is 25, or
that R and C are several years younger and why does it matter? If
Shakespeare hasn't made their exact ages integral to the playing out of
his action, then he presumably didn't think it was important.  If Lear
is 80, (and he does burble on about his age), what is the 'real' or
mimetic problem with his having fathered children in his middle age?
Elderly paternity is hardly a strange phenomenon, nor, for that matter
is elderly maternity.  Eleanor of Aquitaime was well in her 40s when she
produced John, and Elizabeth Coke, Lady Russell, a contemporary of
Elizabeth 1 had produced 2 daughters when well in her 40s. Does it
perhaps say something about Lear's fruitloopiness if he is cursing the
fertility of a woman who is patently past childbearing, if Goneril is
cast 'older'?  It would be equally fruitless (pardon the pun) if you
were trying to guess the ages of one of the possibly several Mrs.
Lears, so inconveniently disposed of before the action commences.  As
for problems for directors?  None whatsoever, apart from the usual ones
that bedevil all theatre practitioners, as the Fates conspire to make
thorny the path towards opening.  Oh yes, and making sure that if one C
Weinstein is in the audience, that all the actors are fluent in RP.  A
fantastic production here in the Antipodes a few years ago, directed by
Barry Kosky for Bell Shakespeare,  with a female fool (who brought the
house down with her rendition of 'My Heart Belongs to Daddy), an
Aboriginal Cordelia (the wonderful Deborah Mailman) and John Bell's
totally out of it king.  Bell himself must have been (at a guess) mid
50s and played it sort of real age, which made his degeneration
terrifying, rather than pathetic.  But really, ages of both players and
characters in this production? Irrelevant!

Cheers,
Judi

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