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ConnieAnnKirk
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KING LEAR: On Stage, in Film, and in Other Media

[ Edited ]

Have you seen KING LEAR performed on stage?  Let us hear about your experience!  Have you seen a film adaptation that you particularly enjoyed?  Heard an audio version?  Let us know in this thread!

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: KING LEAR: On Stage, in Film, and in Other Media

[ Edited ]

Ian McKellen is nominated for an Emmy this year for his portrayal of Lear on PBS.  I didn't see the production during its original airing, but I'm going to watch it soon. 

 

You can see more information about the production, here, (including interviews, background, and online videos) and below is a link for the DVD available here at BN.com.

 

We're taking our time with this monumental Shakespearean drama--2 months.  So, relax and enjoy Lear when and as you can.  We have plenty of time to talk about it!

 

 

 

King Lear 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~ConnieAnnKirk




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friery
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Re: KING LEAR: On Stage, in Film, and in Other Media


ConnieK wrote:

Have you seen KING LEAR performed on stage?  Let us hear about your experience!  Have you seen a film adaptation that you particularly enjoyed?  Heard an audio version?  Let us know in this thread!


 

I saw Lear performed at the San Diego Repertory Theater a few years ago.  The guy playing the lead has to be big--not necessarily physically, but in presence.

 

I went to the Netflix website, and they list about nine different flim versions of the play.  The most intriguing is a 1916 version--it's a silent film.

 

Also, don't forget the great film Ran by Kurasowa.  It's Lear set in medieval Japan, and the daughters are sons instead.

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Re: KING LEAR: On Stage, in Film, and in Other Media


ConnieK wrote:

Have you seen KING LEAR performed on stage?  Let us hear about your experience!  Have you seen a film adaptation that you particularly enjoyed?  Heard an audio version?  Let us know in this thread!


 

Here's a King Lear adaptation I wasn't aware of.  It's a movie called "A Thousand Acres," debuting in 1997.  Here's the synopsis from Netflix--

Shakespeare's King Lear gets an update when Larry Cook (Jason Robards) -- a cranky, aging farmer who owns 1,000 acres of land -- decides to divide his property among his daughters, Ginny (Jessica Lange), Rose (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Caroline (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Caroline hesitates to accept, and Larry rescinds the offer. But when Ginny and Rose take over the farm, problems with their ailing father dredge up memories of a horrible past.

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Peppermill
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Re: KING LEAR: On Stage, in Film, and in Other Media

 


friery wrote:

ConnieK wrote:

Have you seen KING LEAR performed on stage?  Let us hear about your experience!  Have you seen a film adaptation that you particularly enjoyed?  Heard an audio version?  Let us know in this thread!


 

Here's a King Lear adaptation I wasn't aware of.  It's a movie called "A Thousand Acres," debuting in 1997.  Here's the synopsis from Netflix--

Shakespeare's King Lear gets an update when Larry Cook (Jason Robards) -- a cranky, aging farmer who owns 1,000 acres of land -- decides to divide his property among his daughters, Ginny (Jessica Lange), Rose (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Caroline (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Caroline hesitates to accept, and Larry rescinds the offer. But when Ginny and Rose take over the farm, problems with their ailing father dredge up memories of a horrible past.


 

That's based on Jane Smiley's book, A Thousand Acres, well reviewed, but which I found far fetched, e.g., the canned meat and numerous other scenarios.  There are King Lear stories in that land; I did not think Smiley captured one of them.  (I have not seen the film -- maybe it would influence my attitudes toward her writing, which have always been strained by that novel.)

 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: KING LEAR: On Stage, in Film, and in Other Media

[ Edited ]

Peppermill wrote:

 

That's based on Jane Smiley's book, A Thousand Acres, well reviewed, but which I found far fetched, e.g., the canned meat and numerous other scenarios.  There are King Lear stories in that land; I did not think Smiley captured one of them.  (I have not seen the film -- maybe it would influence my attitudes toward her writing, which have always been strained by that novel.)

 


 

I remember liking Smiley's A Thousand Acres; read it in college.  Haven't seen the film version.

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: KING LEAR: On Stage, in Film, and in Other Media


friery wrote, in part:

 

I saw Lear performed at the San Diego Repertory Theater a few years ago.  The guy playing the lead has to be big--not necessarily physically, but in presence.

 


Oh, yes.  I've heard actors say they look forward to getting older and growing into the role.  A young man can't play LEAR, I'd argue, and they seem to say the same.  There's something comforting in that (I say, blowing my "few" gray whispies out of my eyes!).

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: KING LEAR: On Stage, in Film, and in Other Media

[ Edited ]

I'm watching the PBS Ian McKellen version in short stages.  I just watched the first scene in Act I.

 

In the scene, it seems that Regan and Goneril simply comply with what seems to be Lear's playful request for a reminder of their love for him, rather than an ambitious effort to gain their dowry.  When Cordelia fails to play along, Lear responds irrationally.  There's more 'gamesmanship' about the scene than when I read it.

 

What do you think of this interpretation?  Has anyone else watched this version?  They are skipping lines here or there; I wonder why they're doing that.

 

 

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: KING LEAR: On Stage, in Film, and in Other Media

I currently have both the Ian McKellen and the Ian Holm versions from the library.  Because King Lear is new to me, I thought that I would watch these first.  Part way through the Holm's one and found some of his "angry" speeches in Act 1 hard to understand.  Maybe I should switch act by act between the two versions.   I shall perservere.

 

Nancy

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Killing the Blues by Rowland Salley
Performed by Robert Plant and Alison Kraus on RAISING SAND
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Re: KING LEAR: On Stage, in Film, and in Other Media


harleyhoney wrote:

I currently have both the Ian McKellen and the Ian Holm versions from the library.  Because King Lear is new to me, I thought that I would watch these first.  Part way through the Holm's one and found some of his "angry" speeches in Act 1 hard to understand.  Maybe I should switch act by act between the two versions.   I shall perservere.

 

Nancy


 

Nancy--I hope you stay with it.  One thing that might help is to have the text of the play open in front of you as you watch.  You can pause the movie, read a passage (and even some of the explanatory notes, if you wish) and then push play again. 

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: KING LEAR: On Stage, in Film, and in Other Media

Excellent idea, Connie.  That will really help.

 


ConnieK wrote:

Nancy--I hope you stay with it.  One thing that might help is to have the text of the play open in front of you as you watch.  You can pause the movie, read a passage (and even some of the explanatory notes, if you wish) and then push play again. 


Nancy

"Somebody said they saw me swinging the world by the tail, bouncing over a white cloud, killing the blues."
Killing the Blues by Rowland Salley
Performed by Robert Plant and Alison Kraus on RAISING SAND
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Re: KING LEAR: On Stage, in Film, and in Other Media


harleyhoney wrote:

Excellent idea, Connie.  That will really help.

 


ConnieK wrote:

Nancy--I hope you stay with it.  One thing that might help is to have the text of the play open in front of you as you watch.  You can pause the movie, read a passage (and even some of the explanatory notes, if you wish) and then push play again. 


Nancy


 

Let me echo ConnieK's advice.  I think you should stick with the Holm version, because I think you cannot find a better recorded performance (I have not yet seen McKellen--its on my Christmas list).  This in particular because the minimalist setting makes you concentrate on the actors and the words they are saying.  Also I like the focus on Goneril during Lear's "How sharper than a serpent's tooth" speech--she finds it really hurtful.

 

People looking for recorded versions might also consider Olivier's Lear, with the incomparable Leo McKern as Gloucester, the NY Shakespeare Festival production with James Earl Jones in the title role, Rene Auberjonois as Edgar and Raul Julia as Edmund, and the Russian version starring Yuri Yarvet and directed by Kosintsev (it has subtitles in English which are of course Shakespeare.  Some of the images are really striking)

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Re: KING LEAR: On Stage, in Film, and in Other Media


ConnieK wrote:

Have you seen KING LEAR performed on stage?  Let us hear about your experience!  Have you seen a film adaptation that you particularly enjoyed?  Heard an audio version?  Let us know in this thread!


 

I have seen Lear on stage twice--once with Paxton Whitehead, who was brilliant, and another time with a cast which featured women playing Lear and Kent (as men).  Kent worked but I was not sure about Lear.  It might have been the particular actress.  Nevertheless it was an interesting experience.

"We're actors - we're the opposite of people" - Tom Stoppard
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Re: KING LEAR: On Stage, in Film, and in Other Media


Bolognaking wrote:

ConnieK wrote:

Have you seen KING LEAR performed on stage?  Let us hear about your experience!  Have you seen a film adaptation that you particularly enjoyed?  Heard an audio version?  Let us know in this thread!


 

I have seen Lear on stage twice--once with Paxton Whitehead, who was brilliant, and another time with a cast which featured women playing Lear and Kent (as men).  Kent worked but I was not sure about Lear.  It might have been the particular actress.  Nevertheless it was an interesting experience.


 

Interesting, bolognaking.  I wonder what the production was attempting to point out or highlight by casting a woman as Lear?  Did it give you any new thoughts about the play?

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: KING LEAR: On Stage, in Film, and in Other Media


ConnieK wrote:

Bolognaking wrote:

ConnieK wrote:

Have you seen KING LEAR performed on stage?  Let us hear about your experience!  Have you seen a film adaptation that you particularly enjoyed?  Heard an audio version?  Let us know in this thread!


 

I have seen Lear on stage twice--once with Paxton Whitehead, who was brilliant, and another time with a cast which featured women playing Lear and Kent (as men).  Kent worked but I was not sure about Lear.  It might have been the particular actress.  Nevertheless it was an interesting experience.


 

Interesting, bolognaking.  I wonder what the production was attempting to point out or highlight by casting a woman as Lear?  Did it give you any new thoughts about the play?


 

I am inclined to be cynical and suggest that the production was pointing out that there are more Shakespearean actresses than roles for them to play!  Since the actress was playing a man, her need to be a male impersonator on top of the demands of the role itself made this a daunting task.  As I think about it, my problem may have been more that she played Lear as a man in late middle age, and this may have got in the way of her ability to convey how out-of-control Lear was.  We have a sense that people in this age group are "the justice" who is in charge of things as opposed to the "lean and slippered pantaloon" from whom control is slipping away.

"We're actors - we're the opposite of people" - Tom Stoppard
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Re: KING LEAR: On Stage, in Film, and in Other Media


Bolognaking:
I am inclined to be cynical and suggest that the production was pointing out that there are more Shakespearean actresses than roles for them to play!  Since the actress was playing a man, her need to be a male impersonator on top of the demands of the role itself made this a daunting task.  As I think about it, my problem may have been more that she played Lear as a man in late middle age, and this may have got in the way of her ability to convey how out-of-control Lear was.  We have a sense that people in this age group are "the justice" who is in charge of things as opposed to the "lean and slippered pantaloon" from whom control is slipping away.

Ha!  Love your last sentence!  :smileywink:  I wish I could have seen this production.  It sounds thought-provoking.

~ConnieAnnKirk




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