Promotional Pic Michael as Edmund
Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet - the two Tragedies concerned with youth in our
Taste of Shakespeare series - King Lear is a Tragedy of old age. More
specifically it is about the time in a father's life when his children, for good
or ill, by gift or through force, acquire power over him and he has no choice
but to submit or leave.
Lear's two daughters band together to strip their father of all respect and
dignity, the old man, taken to the ends of endurance, takes to the open road on
a stormy night accompanied only by his trusty servant and his faithful Fool.
Losing his home, his way and his wits, Lear begins to look squarely at the
misery of the outcast poor and the cruel hypocrisy of those with power in the
world. In his attempt to "feel what wretches feel," he bares his chest
to the wind and rain, and in his madness he crowns himself with a circlet of
flowers. The pain in the play is almost too much for an audience to bear, but
Shakespeare's magnificent poetry and the kindness of the few good characters
makes the story endurable. King Lear will never go out of date because the
exchange of power between parent and child is repeated in every generation and
every home. And if this transfer of power takes place without empathy and love,
the tragedy of Lear will be repeated as well. Although some lucky few in the
audience will be unable to see the relevance of this savage play to their own
protected lives, with the passage of time they inevitably will.
Set and costume design for "A Taste of Shakespeare: King Lear" is by CAMERON PORTEOUS, who was Head of Design at Ontario's Shaw Theatre Festival for 17 years. He has also designed sets and costumes for theatre and opera across Canada, and was Production Designer for all of Devine Entertainment's Artist, Inventor and Composer films, including "Beethoven Lives Upstairs", for which he won an Emmy Award
To meet the challenge of how to represent the world of King Lear, we look to the play and its central character for inspiration. While the king must deal with the real world when it comes to winning wars, he spends much of his time in a world of power, flattery and privilege that is quite unreal.
But in this play, this king eventually has to deal with the real world when he is unceremoniously dumped into it. From the protected berth, he then must deal with weather and nature, finding in them insight as well as misery. So we decided to visually move the king from a stylized world to a real one, as that is what happens to him. The first half of the script was shot in a studio and the second half outside. The link is the storm sequence, in which the outside world impinges on the inside.
The opening scenes are shot in limbo with only the key trappings of castle and home - throne, gate, servants, desk, candles. As Lear is thrust into the storm, forced into his own mind and the world's chaos, we give him a combination of natural and unnatural sights and sounds to represent this fusion. But after society has been shattered by the worst of man's nature - the blinding of Gloucester - and the king is on his own, without even the comfort of companions, we take the camera to the natural world and leave the safe studio behind. We open ourselves to nature along with Lear. We got luckier than he did: a foggy day at the bottom of the Scarborough Bluffs didn't let us see the cliffs but gave our images a magic quality. And then a sunny day at Toronto's beaches let us see our prison (actually the Waterworks) and gave the end of the play - shot as the sun went down - the natural progression of the sunset.
The shock of the storm and Lear's refusal to give in to its power leads to his realization that there are people who have to deal with this every day. Before his death, Lear - who has given away his golden crown - fashions a new one out of leaves and flowers, and faces the hypocrisy of the world.
Lear David FoxEarl of Kent/Narrator Geoff BowesEarl of Gloucester Gary
ReinekeGoneril Philippa DomvilleReganSoo GarayCordelia Waneta StormsThe Fool
Brian TreeEdmund Michael McManusEdgar Steve CumynDuke of Cornwall David
JansenDuke of Albany Kevin HicksProduced and Directed by
Winner of the Bronze Plaque, Humanities Division
at the Columbus International Film & Video Festival
Synopsis from 'A Taste of Shakespeare' site
For Bravo Canada
Here is a link to some video CLIPS of the film.
Here are some VIDCAPS from the film:
KL1 2.79mgs KL2 2.68mgs KL3 3.09mgs KL4 1.65mgs KL5 4.70mgs KL6 3.05mgs