The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1762  Tuesday, 18 October 2005

From: 		Nancy Charlton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Monday, 17 Oct 2005 23:42:12 +0000
Subject: 	"King Lear in a Box"

Monday 17 October
Yesterday I was able to say, "A fortnight hence I will be giving the 
program I've been planning for months." However, today I'd have to say a 
it's a thirtnight, and tomorrow--well, you say it!

The occasion on the 30th will have two parts. I'll have a very mixed 
general audience, more old than young, more town than gown. After a 
70-minute talk by me on speech and poeisis and language, a pre-selected 
cast will do "King Lear in a Box," from a series published by Workman 
Publishing. Besides KL, they have Taming of a Shrew. The inro from the 
editor, actor and teacher Carl Martin, implies that he has done others 
but the haven't been published. (Richard Burt mentioned the KL on 
SHAKSPER in I think it was 2002.) The "box" includes complete text, 10 
playing scripts, cards about each character (which I'll amplify a bit), 
and props: plastic eyeballs, a fool's cap, and a retractable knife. I 
may add some Halloweenish props, seeing as how it will be Samhain as 
well as Reformation Sunday.

The idea is to play KL in about 40 minutes. Mr Martin has done a fine 
job of condensing the play. I'm going to restore Kent in the stocks, 
however, and also prolong the "war" scene. It won't be conventional 
fighting; I've seen in done with swords and with staves but I'm tapping 
three talented children (ages 10-13) of some friends plus one or three 
of their friends to conduct this fight in Tae Kwon Do. I may put back a 
speech or two as well. The place I'm using is really set up for 
concerts, replete with grand piano. However, the Classical Greek Theatre 
uses the space for its productions, and as an adaptable,  minimalist 
space it works very well.

Since I'll be using a large map of England in my talk, I'll leave it up, 
with the factions' HDQs plus Dover all marked, and the map scale 
prominently displayed. I think it is helpful in this play to give an 
idea of the distances covered.

So, I'm wondering if any of you have done this 40-minute KL, ad I'd 
cherish your responses and ideas.

Mr Martin suggests having Lear played with controlled rage rather than 
shouting, even at the elements. There is a fashion of having Goneril and 
Regan being deliberated provocative, wearing bondage outfits, body 
jewelry and tattoos. I think they should be more controlled. They are, 
after all, mature women, duchesses of no small social stature. Their 
come-ons to Edmund will be more effective for being subtle and tasteful; 
it makes their icy amorality and dissembling the more chilling. Cornwall 
in many is a far more thoroughgoing bastard than Edmund: at least we 
know what's driving Edmund. Albany is not a wimp or a coward, as Mr 
Martin's notes suggest, but at best a sincerely gentle man who just 
doesn't get it until too late.

Mr Martin's edition has Albany speak the last four lines. I'll go with 
the more logical convention of having Edgar speak them, as Albany is 
clearly handing over the reins of state. Since I'm planning to encourage 
my audience to be like Globe groundlings and talk back to the actors, 
and because I'll do some speaking exercises with the whole audience 
beforehand, I think they will be ready to speak those four lines along 
with Edgar, and it should be a powerful moment.

Those are my ideas that have evolved so far, on paper rather than on 
stage. Thanks in advance for your input.

Nancy Charlton
Portland OR

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