The Reinvention of King Lear
On any given night within the global theatre community, chances are good that somewhere upon a stage there is at least one production of a Shakespearean play being performed, and whether it is Hamlet set in Nazi Germany (Eine Klein Hamlet) or The Tempest reworked as children’s theatre (The Island of Anyplace), this production is, more often than not, a new interpretation of the ancient text. While the average audience member may never have heard of modern masters like Albee, Beckett, or Chekov, no matter their station in life or how far away that we get from the Elizabethan era, they have heard of William Shakespeare. Moreover, there are theatre practitioners who dedicate the entirety of their careers to the performing or directing of his plays. Still others make their careers out of teaching or writing about the famed playwright. All of this, of course, is common knowledge. Some consider Shakespeare to be the gauge by which all other theatre is measured. We know this, and I will by no means be labeled as a visionary for making such a statement. It is obvious, but because of this sheer epidemic fanaticism, Shakespeare’s plays have been, and are, a key center of invention and debate since the poet himself penned the plays in the seventeenth century.
Perhaps of all of Shakespeare’s master works The Tragedy of King Lear has received the most scholarly debate and bold interpretation, often to the point of complete reinvention, throughout theatrical history. The tragedy was first performed in 1605 or at the end of 1606 depending on who is speaking. The earliest printed version of the play appears in the celebrated First Quarto of 1608. This account stands in direct conflict wi…
…d. Although, admittedly, it is doubtful that they will ever fully be answered.
Works Cited and Consulted
Artaud, Antonin. The Theatre and Its Double. Grove Press Inc. New York. 1958
Billington, Michael. Gielgud: His Greatest Triumphs. “The Age.” May 24, 2000.
Brook, Peter. The Empty Space. 1st Touchstone edition. Simon and Schuster Inc. 1996.
Noguchi, Isamu. Isamu Noguchi On the Dance. “Texts by Isamu Noguchi.”
Partee, Dr. Morriss Henry. Shakespeare Improved. University of Utah English Dept.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of King Lear. Jay L. Halio. Ed. The New Cambridge Shakespeare. Cambridge University Press. New York. 1992.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of King Lear. “Folio of 1623.” Internet Shakespeare Editions.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of King Lear. “Quarto of 1608.” Internet Shakespeare Editions.