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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: November ::
King Lear: Looking for Advice on Editing and Setting
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2122  Wednesday, 5 November 2003

From:           Alan J. Sanders <
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Date:           Tuesday, 4 Nov 2003 08:39:23 -0500
Subject:        King Lear: Looking for Advice on Editing and Setting

Fellow SHAKSPEReans:

It has been a thrill to have become responsible for a yearly production
of one of Shakespeare's works in conjunction with the Grand Theatre's
education series in North Georgia.  It is always an overwhelming task
but one I find immensely satisfying.  As a 'community' based theatre
program, we are often without much of a budget for salaries or
technicians.  I am at the mercy of volunteers who make up for
shortcomings by exhibiting fantastic amounts of passion and dedication.

With that said, the next project that might come to bear for the fall of
2004 (or Spring 2005) is "King Lear" which, as many of you know, has
often been thought of to be a work so complex and elusive that it is, as
Charles Lamb states, not really suited for the stage.  Though Harold
Bloom initially rejected this line of thought, in his work,
"Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human," he admits too that Charles
Lamb may in fact be correct.

Now, imagine my sudden dread at being asked to bring this production to
light and yet make it palatable and entertaining to middle and high
school audiences.  Our past forays included "Romeo & Juliet", "Macbeth",
and "Twelfth Night."  To get to my point, there has always been a
request that these productions be kept to as close to or under two hours
in duration, without an intermission.  With the exception of R&J (2 hrs.
15 min.) I was able to keep the schedule with little to no cuts in the
text.  I do not think that will be possible if Lear is chosen.

Two requests:  1) Do any of you on this list happen to have an edited
script (or have had to edit the script) for such constraints and if so,
could I be so bold as to ask for a copy or, at the very least, get your
suggestions on where best to start cutting?

2) Because our city has recently made some national press due to the
opening of the Booth Western Art Museum, I am strongly considering
placing the setting of the tale in the Old West and would like some
feedback on any other productions that you are aware of that might have
tried to employ this same time in American history.  (I am already aware
of the TNT adaptation with Patrick Stewart, but I am looking for true
productions where the Old West was the setting.)

If you feel better contacting my off-list, please feel free to do so.  I
am, at best, a novice in terms of staging and acting Shakespeare, and
thus I force myself to start researching and planning at least a year in
advance of a show.  Any suggestions, comments, or even criticisms are
greatly asked for and appreciated.

Kindest regards,
Alan J. Sanders
President, Pumphouse Players, Inc.
www.pumphouseplayers.com

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