Posts Tagged: King Lear

And so they play their parts: Double-casting Shakespeare’s plays

Double-casting is a theater technique (as opposed to a literary one) that creates a meta-narrative, transforming a large-cast play into a present-tense adventure. Actors swapping costumes and changing roles (and sometimes genders) becomes part of the thrilling ride, and theater’s fundamental artifice becomes its strength. Theater’s very artificiality becomes a feature, not a bug. Shakespeare utilized this trick to both amplify subtext and heighten the drama.


William Charles Macready and the restoration of William Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’

Imagine a King Lear that cut the character of the Fool, created a romance between Edgar and Cordelia, and featured a happy ending in which Lear and Cordelia both live. That was the most popular version of Shakespeare’s play for more than 150 years, until William Charles Macready’s landmark production in 1838.



The madness of Hamlet and King Lear: When psychiatrists used Shakespeare to argue legal definitions of insanity in the courtroom

Well-known Shakespeare characters such as King Lear and Hamlet suffer (or appear to suffer) from madness — and early American psychiatrists took note. Observations drawn from literature began to bleed into courtroom testimony regarding insanity pleas. “From the mid-1840s through about the mid-1860s in the United States, during the first generation of American psychiatry, no… Continue Reading »


Drawing Shakespeare: King Lear

Artist Paul Glenshaw writes about drawing the bas-relief of King Lear by sculptor John Gregory on the front of the Folger Shakespeare Library building.


Excerpt: ‘Year of the Mad King’ by Antony Sher

What’s it like to play the role of Lear onstage? In this excerpt from Year of the Mad King: The Lear Diaries, actor Antony Sher gives us a window into the rehearsal process for the Royal Shakespeare Company production of King Lear in 2016, directed by Gregory Doran.


Excerpt from Dunbar: Edward St. Aubyn retells King Lear

In “Dunbar,” a new novel by Edward St. Aubyn that retells the Shakespeare play “King Lear,” Henry Dunbar makes the mistake of handing over control of his global corporation to his eldest daughters, who bribe a doctor to declare him mentally unfit and send him to a care home in England.


‘Sweetly Writ’: King Lear and the First Folio in Oregon

What can we learn from Shakespeare’s revisions to his plays, and what does that mean for the actors and directors who make their own changes to his texts today? Oregon Shakespeare Festival explores these questions in a new original work called Sweetly Writ, which demonstrates how Shakespeare conceived different takes on the same characters and… Continue Reading »