Monday, 23 June 2014

Musings on 'Lear'

by Charlie Albuery

In my opinion, there is something uniquely difficult about staging a Shakespeare play. Everybody, or certainly everybody likely to attend a PGS Sixth Form production of King Lear has a strange kind of double-edged sword relationship with Shakespeare plays. They tend to approach them with both an air of familiarity, a belief that certain characters and plots should be represented in a certain way and yet often a nigh-on complete unfamiliarity with the piece as a whole, meaning certain plot points and almost any subtext have to be made almost excruciatingly explicit.
Take Hamlet as an example, even in an hour abridged version, everybody has a certain view of the ‘Alas poor Yorick’ scene and this has to be adhered to strictly to avoid their alienation (despite it being a relatively tangential scene in the grand scheme of things). Hamlet’s developing madness, on the other hand, has to be presented in way very unfaithful to Shakespeare’s original text in order to condense nearly three hours’ worth of subtle storytelling into half an hour or so. This leads to a bizarre but necessary mixture of full-on, almost-out-of-context Shakespeare and hand-holding, stripped-down storytelling.

This presents certain difficulties as a director of an abridged Shakespeare play, to fulfil both requirements of the standard audience member poor pacing is almost a necessity. These wonderful, complex sagas have to be presented as almost a greatest-hits package, with recognisable (yet often superfluous to the actual plot) moments and soliloquies loosely strung together by rushed exposition which takes the place of less iconic, but certainly no less vital and captivating, plot and character development scenes.

All of that said, directing King Lear at PGS has been a wonderful experience. I think these issues that arise naturally from the tackling of such an iconic piece can be overcome and that’s exactly what I and the rest of the cast and crew intend to do, should it be within our power.

So to break the overall pessimism of this article, you really should come and see it!

2/3 July at the Square Tower. See you there.

No seriously.

All of you.

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