King Lear – Theatre Calgary

As this was my first live Shakespeare performance, I went into this experience slightly unsure about what to expect.  I’d seen clips on YouTube of the Globe, and movies of The Royal Shakespeare Company, but I had not actually watched a live production.  Therefore I did not know whether the staging would be traditional, like the Globe, or more contemporary, like the Victorian era King Lear.

Kate and I went to an evening performance. It was all very mature; we drove down ourselves, parked like adults, found the theatre, wore dresses and makeup.  We were very classy.

I'm wearing makeup! *gasp*
I’m wearing makeup! *gasp*

The Theatre Calgary performance stayed truer to the time period of the actual play than I had originally expected.  The costumes were incredible, and the setting was simplistic, which worked very well because it both conveyed the fairly specific settings with little effort while also allowing the actors to focus on their characters and interactions without the use of too many props.  It was a relatively small cast, so some actors played multiple characters, which was very successful even though the actors were fairly recognizable.  All in all, it was a beautiful done performance, 10/10, would recommend.

Our videos can’t be uploaded onto the blog, due to the 39 MB limit on media uploads, so today I typed up 3/5 of the video dialogue.  Kate will post the rest because they are ridiculously long.  I just transcripted everything we said in the videos.  Forgive the choppy sentence structure and grammar, as we can write far better than we can speak.

And now, without further ado, here is the transcript of three out of five parts of our vlog!

King Lear Vlog: Transcript

In collaboration with Kate Anderson

H: Hannah Anderson

K: Kate Anderson

Look at all these vlogs!
Look at all these vlogs!

9th Avenue

Driving through the rain to 9th Avenue
Driving through the rain to 9th Avenue

H: On our way to see King Lear… The roads are bad… well, not really bad, but it’s raining. Or snowing, or something, I don’t really know.

K: It’s snowing, it’s slightly snowing.

H: Our driver, for this evening. [Pans to Kate]

K: Hi. Hello!

[Pans to a bright green street sign: 9th Avenue]

H: Look at this! We’re on ninth! Finally, okay…

K: [distantly] where am I going?

K: Why is it 50? Why is it 50 along here?

H: I don’t know. I don’t know, just go with it, just go with it…

[The camera moves to look out the window, filming other vehicles]

H: Cars. Stuff.

K: You are the worst commentator ever.

H: I am the worst commentator in the world!

H: What do we have down here? [Shot of hand reaching down to grab a bag] We have… a bag. We have… Kate’s purse… with… there’re the tickets in there!

[Pulls out tickets]

H: tickets. Yay.

Parking Lot

EPCOR Centre of Performing Arts! Very blurry picture, what with all the rain
EPCOR Centre for  the Performing Arts! Very blurry picture, what with all the rain/snow

K: [distantly] Maybe you should actually talk about Shakespeare and stuff. Just a thought.

[H ignores her]

H: So we’re on our way! Look at that! The EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts! Where the Maxbell Theatre is! Where we’re going to see King Lear! King Lear, yay!

[Pans out to lots of parked cars]

H: Oh dear, look at all this!

[Camera turns to the side of the road, where there is a parking sign]

H: right now, yah, yah, yah, yah, right here, right here! Parking lot! Parking lot, hurrah okay!

H: Let’s not hit this thing, or this person, or…

K: Where should I park?

H: Kate’s proving well at driving today.

[Pans to a stuffed reindeer on the dashboard]

H: this is our driving companion. His name is Rodney. He is fab.

This is our driving companion. His name is Rodney. He is fab.
This is our driving companion. His name is Rodney. He is fab.

Prior to Entry

We've just parked. Kate looks so classy. And I look like a demon with the light reflecting off my glasses.
We’ve just parked. Kate looks so classy. And I look like a demon with the light reflecting off my glasses.

H: Hellooooo! Here we are! In the parking lot! We’re getting ready to see King Lear! It’s gonna be… good? Hopefully?

K: Yes.

H: This is the Theatre Calgary production of King Lear, so it’ll be different than the BBC production.

K: No Gandalf.

H: Yes, no Gandalf.

K: I’m still going to yell “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” though.

H: No Radagast either.

K: No Radagast, no.

H: So, that’ll be interesting. We’ll see how this goes. We’re gonna go in now. But we’re crazy early.

[Look at each other awkwardly. Both laugh.]

We have no idea what we're doing.
We have no idea what we’re doing.

K: As per usual.

K: Anything you’re expecting?


H: Blood. I’m expecting blood. Theatre blood.

K: If there’s not blood I will be so disappointed, like actually.

H: Okay, so anyway, we’re going to go in now, so we’ll record something… later?

K: During intermission or right before we go in.

H: Good plan.

H: Bye!


H: So… it was…

K: I liked it.

H: It was good.

K: We’re in intermission right now.

H: The stage was more… [Searching for words, staring up at ceiling as if descriptions are hiding on the roof]

K: It was more elaborate?

H: [stares at K. Awkward silence]

H: the music at the beginning was incredible.

K: Yeah, it was good. The effects were quite good… There was no blood.

H: No blood so far.

K: It makes me sad.

H: It’s mostly wood. Lots of wood.

K: The background structure is three levels, three balconies and a set of stairs. With gates and… like… [Gestures as she tries to come up with a better word than awesome]

H: There are moving stairs. The stairs move. It’s cool.

K: There were tapestries hanging off them at the beginning for indoor scenes, and they took them down a couple scenes in and it made it look like they were outside looking into a castle. So even though the structure was quite open it looked like a banquet hall for the first scene. And they took them down quite quickly, I was actually quite impressed.

H: …

H: They took the tapestries down?

K: yes. They took the tapestries down.

H: …

H: I didn’t seem them take the tapestries down.

K: They all came in to move the banquet tables and they took them down.

H: …

H: I didn’t even notice.

K: It’s pretty engrossing the way the stage is set up. The set changes were pretty minimal, and they were pretty quick and efficient, so it didn’t detract from the performance at all.

H: They yell a lot. There is a lot of yelling. And they change costumes about every scene.

K: Goneril’s gone through about three costume changes so far. It’s disturbing.

H: Regan’s gone through two.

K: Lear’s had one… or did he just take off a layer?

H: He just took off a layer. He had this big fur trimmed cloak in this gorgeous red and it was really cool looking, and… it had fur on it. It was really nice.

K: The costumes are quite elaborate and it really adds to the performance.

K: I thought the elaborateness would take away from the acting, but it doesn’t really. It’s well done.

H: The costuming… it’s not Victorian, which is what the BBC production was…

K: It’s more Edwardian.

H: [glares]

H: It’s not Edwardian.

K: Well it’s not Victorian.

H: It’s more medieval.

K: But later than Elizabethan I’m pretty sure.

H: No. It’s not Elizabethan.

K: It’s later than Elizabethan.

H: Are you sure it’s later? It’s a lot simpler.

K: Yeah, it’s a lot simpler. But I think it’s later.

H: No.

K: I don’t know. We can argue about this later.

H: The Globe productions we watched in tutorial had costumes that were far more Elizabethan than these ones, but these ones do have far more detailing.

K: They have a lot of detailing actually.

H: What’s kind of weird is that Goneril and Wiggins [meant Reagan] are wearing white. And very light colours.

K: Which was kind of unexpected. Almost out of character.

H: Cordelia’s mostly wearing gold, and Lear’s wearing black, with occasionally a red sash and the red cloak at the beginning. Like the golden child and the dad in mourning or something.

K: What did you think of Cordelia?

H: She’s good. They used the asides, which I liked, instead of leaving them out.

K: She kind of shouted them though. She kind of turned to the audience and shouted them.

H: That’s the point of the asides. Including the audience in it.

K: But all the action kept going on around her. Did that take away from it for you?

H: No. Cause it’s engaging the audience, that’s the point. The asides are meant for the audience to engage them in the events of the play, and to talk directly to them. It’s like breaking the fourth wall, and she broke the fourth wall pretty effectively.

H: What else?

K: Goneril and Regan are quite well acted so far. Like, especially Goneril. She was crying at the beginning, it was actually sort of disturbing.

H: It was sad. It made her seem just a little less evil.

K: It’s like no, she’s evil, but she’s actually feeling emotion, which is… what is it? Is that fake?

H: But she was crying when facing away from Lear, which meant it wasn’t for his benefit. So she was actually feeling whatever it was that was making her cry. But I couldn’t really tell if it was sad… or anger?

K: I thought it was angrier. It adds another level of complexity onto it.

H: The one criticism I would have about staging is… more about stage direction? Often the characters are facing away from the audience. Their backs are turned, and it makes it really hard to read facial expressions. So it’s kind of difficult, especially with characters interacting one on one. Like, there was a scene with Regan and Lear, and Regan was facing Lear and away from us, so we couldn’t see any emotional complexities in the interaction, and couldn’t see any emotion.

K: And before they ended this half, there was a scene where Lear was delivering a monologue in the middle of the stage, and rather than facing out so the audience…

Announcer: Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Act Two will begin in five minutes. This is your five minute call, we ask that you would please start taking your seats inside the theatre.

Neither of us are impressed with the announcements that keep interrupting our filming.
Neither of us are impressed with the announcements that keep interrupting our filming.


K: Lear was in the middle and the rest of the characters were encircling Lear and facing away. So we could only watch a couple of people. So we could see Albany and the Fool and a bit of Kent? I think? But you couldn’t really see anyone else because their backs were to us. So it closed off the performance a little bit. Um… but we’re heading into Act Two?

H: I don’t know if it’s actually Act Two. It’s just the second part of this.

K: The second half of this.

H: There was other thing I had to say.

H: I can’t remember what I wanted to say.

H: …

H: I am really upset about this.

K: Set, music, costumes…

H: France?



H: It’s kind of cool, because in the first two scenes, almost all the actors are on stage all the time. Like, Cordelia’s in scene two in a maid’s uniform, and it’s totally her, except it’s not because she’s the maid character, obviously, but it’s the same actor, so it’s interesting. And France keeps popping up. And his actor is really cute.

K: It’s kind of a suspension of disbelief thing. When you’re so close – like, our seats are in orchestra centre – so you’re able to see everyone up close and pick out facial details, and the trouble with that is we know if there’s a repeating actor, so we have to suspend our disbelief on that.

H: I’m keeping my eye out for France. In scene one, it was really adorable because he totally sassed out Burgundy, it was great.

Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, Act Two will begin in three minutes, we ask that you please start taking your seats inside the theatre. Ushers stand by to close the house doors.

K: [glares up at the ceiling]

H: The bell tolls for thee, I guess.  But I just wanted to say that France is super adorable, cause you could tell he was taking Cordelia, not for Lear’s benefit or his, but for Cordelia because he loved her, and it was really, really sweet. And now I keep watching this actor and I’m like, “Aw, you’re so cute” and he keeps popping up in soldier’s uniforms and it’s very… He’s a good looking guy. I’m keeping my eye out for him. Which really I shouldn’t.

K: But the bell tolls for us.

H: So we had better go get back to our seats!

K: We’ll see you at the end of the second half!

H: Yeah, with more critiques! Okay!

K: So bye!

H: Bye internet!

Together: Bye!

And that is the story of how we decided that we probably couldn’t make a career as YouTubers.

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