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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: August ::
PBS: Streaming Video of Ian McKellen's Lear
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0461  Thursday, 27 August 2009

From:       Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:       Thursday, August 27, 2009
Subject:    PBS: Streaming Video of Ian McKellen's Lear

The Royal Shakespeare Company _King Lear_ that appeared on PBS stations 
as part of the Great Performances series, starring Ian McKellen and 
directed for the stage by Trevor Nunn and for television by Trevor Nunn 
and Chris Hunt can now be watched in streaming video on-line at

The website contains other additional materials, including an Interview 
with Sir Ian McKellen on playing King Lear.

I include below other information from the PBS website.

King Lear - Ian McKellen
Goneril - Frances Barber
Regan - Monica Dolan
Cordelia - Romola Garai
Albany - Julian Harries
Cornwall - Guy Williams
Gloucester - William Gaunt
Edgar - Ben Meyjes
Edmund - Philip Winchester
Kent - Jonathon Hyde
Fool - Sylvester McCoy

The PBS film version of this play may be purchased now at

Short Synopsis:
The monumental tragedy of an old king who decides to divide his kingdom 
among his daughters, but imposes a love test on each to merit her 
portion. His youngest daughter, Cordelia, refuses to flatter him 
falsely, sending Lear into a rage. He withdraws her portion, exiles his 
best friend, and generally becomes increasingly irrational. Cordelia 
leaves to marry the King of France. His eldest daughters subsequently 
turn on him, finally tossing him out into a stormy night. In a parallel 
plot, Lear's close friend Gloucester succumbs to the plot of Edmund, his 
bastard son, who wants the rights of a legitimate son. As this plot 
develops, Gloucester's legitimate son Edgar must flee and disguise 
himself, as Edmund becomes sexually embroiled with Lear's two daughters, 
and with them the politics of the kingdom. As Lear rails against man and 
nature during a violent storm on the heath, Gloucester becomes involved 
in an invasion from France. Betrayed by Edmund, he loses both his eyes. 
In this wretched state he attempts suicide, but is spared by Edgar. He 
then meets Lear in a reunion of madness and blindness -- "reason in 
madness" as Edgar describes it. Next Lear reunites with Cordelia in a 
moment of sublime forgiveness. But the war is lost. Edmund has Cordelia 
hung while in prison. One daughter poisons the other, then commits 
suicide. Edgar kills Edmund in a duel, but not in time to save Cordelia. 
Lear finally dies over her dead body in grief. As one of those still 
alive at the end observes, "our present business is general woe."

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