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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: May ::
What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0497  Thursday, 25 May 2006

[1] 	From: 	Noel Sloboda <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 23 May 2006 13:37:20 -0400 (EDT)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0486 What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?

[2] 	From: 	Hardy M. Cook <
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	Date: 	Thursday, May 25, 2006
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0486 What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Noel Sloboda <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 23 May 2006 13:37:20 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 17.0486 What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0486 What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?

Thank you for all of the responses to my query.

I made it because I am serving as dramaturg for a _Lear_ production, and 
the actress playing the Fool (who is NOT, by the way, playing Cordelia) 
was having trouble figuring out how to leave the stage near the end of 
3.6.  We decided not to kill her, as Noble did, during the mock trial.

If the Fool goes with Lear, the actress asked, why is she never again 
seen with him?  The actress was also wrestling with questions of 
motivation: Why would she go with him-especially as a young fool with a 
future (a decision necessitated by casting in this production)?

We're still in the planning and rehearsal stages, but I last heard that 
the Fool is going to sneak back on stage after helping Kent with Lear's 
exit, then abscond in the opposite direction right before Edgar's 
soliloquy.  This interpretation suggests that she is getting away from 
Lear who is, by this time, mad and unable to protect her-or be "fooled" 
by her.  She is, Feste-like, hitting the road, possibly even becoming a 
Tom o' Bedlam (not literally a madman like her former master but one 
feigning madness for alms).

Thanks again for the thought-provoking discussion of the Fool in _Lear_!

Sincerely,
Noel Sloboda

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Hardy M. Cook <
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Date: 		Thursday, May 25, 2006
Subject: 17.0486 What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0486 What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?

Stated in this manner, we focus on an entirely different matter - 
performance choices regarding the absence of the Fool from 3.6 to the 
end of the play.

On one level, it really doesn't matter what happens to the Fool; 
nevertheless, many directors have elected to explain the Fool's apparent 
disappearance.

One of the more satisfying choices I recall is that made my Michael 
Elliott in his Granata Television <I>Laurence Olivier's KING LEAR</I>. 
Elliott concludes 3.6 with a shot of the Fool, played by John Hurt, 
convulsed from an ague, presumably pneumonia that he contracted in the 
storm.

I discussed in March during a discussion of ASL Productions one of the 
least satisfying choices I saw performed 
<http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2006/0182.html>:

A few years ago, The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., offered a 
production of *Lear* in which the part of Cordelia was played by a 
hearing-impaired actor who signed all of her lines, which were 
subsequently translated by speaking members of the cast, most often the 
Fool.

It was an interesting take on Cordelia's absence of a voice:

Lear: 	 	. . . what can you say to draw
    		A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.

Cordelia:	Nothing, my lord.

The production was unfortunately marred by the directorial choice to 
have the Fool dragged in with a noose around his neck at the line "my 
poor fool is hanged."

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