Playing Lear

Antony Sher as King Lear, Graham Turner as the Fool. Photo by Ellie Kurttz

By Christian Barclay

Shakespeare’s tragic monarch is usually one of the most coveted roles inside the classical theater canon–– along with also This specific is usually also one of the most demanding. King Lear’s delirious journey through the play calls for an actor who can plumb the depths of human suffering, portraying a betrayal of both the body along with also the mind. This specific has challenged no lesser actors than Laurence Olivier, Paul Scofield, Geoffrey Rush, along with also in recent seasons at BAM, Frank Langella, Derek Jacobi, along with also Ian McKellen.

The process that will goes into inhabiting a character like Lear is usually often all-encompassing. For Antony Sher, the acclaimed British actor who will portray the monarch inside the Royal Shakespeare Company’s King Lear (April 7–29 at the BAM Harvey), the work took a familiar form––he wrote a book. Sher has documented his character development for several of his roles with the RSC. The books read like diaries, covering not just in-depth rehearsal work, although the everyday occurrences that will can lead to unexpected insights.

Year of the Mad King: The Lear Diaries (Nick Hern Books) begins during the summer of 2015 along with also covers the year-long process of bringing the monarch to life. (A doubly difficult effort considering Sher was also playing Falstaff inside the RSC’s King along with also Country history play cycle (BAM, 2016) during the same time; he received rave reviews inside the role.) Here are some excerpts by the soon to be published book.

Photo by Ellie Kurttz

First thoughts:
“As for Lear’s journey itself, I’m puzzled. What is usually Shakespeare saying? that will, deprived of everything, a brutish, unforgiving king turns into a lost old man? At the moment, I don’t feel excited or inspired. I just feel overwhelmed by the problems of the piece. although I have to remind myself that will, seeing This specific in performance, This specific hits you like a force of nature, along with also seems to be the greatest play ever written.”

“Lear learning”:“As the session progresses I gradually realize that will This specific present task has become a most unexpected pleasure. Lear’s language is usually exhilarating: his monstrous rages, his mad ramblings, his quiet moments of perception. What a sensation to speak This specific all, a sensation in both senses of the word: a phenomenal event, along with also This specific physical feeling going through me…! What did Alan Howard say?…Learning Shakespeare is usually like standing under a waterfall.”

A possessing spirit:
“So of course he’s Lear, or Lear is usually him, whichever way round This specific works. along with also of course that will’s why the part boils along with also fumes inside me, of course there’s all that will tumult––This specific’s like a kind of possession, although no longer by some fictional character by drama, although by a spirit I know all too bloody well, inside bloody out.”

Christian Barclay is usually a publicist at BAM.

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Playing Lear

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