So last weekend on Saturday, April 4th I had gone to see King Lear at Theatre Calgary, and my what an experience. It was my first time seeing a Shakespeare play live, and my goodness, the production was excellent. I won’t elaborate too much since many others on the blog have posted similar thoughts on the play.
I will say though that, after watching the 2008 film with Ian McKellen, I somehow feel that this play did a better job telling a more cohesive story. The finer focus on the family relations, both in Lear’s family as well as between Gloucester and his sons, made the story all the more touching and dramatic. I will also say I came into the play thinking that the props and costumes would be minimal, with a focus on performance. Much to my surprise, I found the props to be fantastic, and the stage was flexible enough to convincingly transform into a new setting both efficiently and effectively. Of course the performances were also great, and every performer was able to not only hold their own, but contribute to the emotional weight of the story.
One of the scenes that stood out most to me was the one were Gloucester gets his eyes gouged out. The live visual effects were just gripping, with blood gushing out, and included the Duke of Cornwall dropping a fleshy prop eye on the ground and stepping on it. But perhaps my most favorite scenes were the ones that included the live sword battles, particularly when Edmund was on screen. I find these are quite effective and worth including in a production whenever possible since they really good at holding an audiences attention and provide a nice break from the more speech-y parts, keeping the audience interested and entertained. Obviously the best of these was the final showdown between Edmund and Edgar. I never though I could experience the same epic blockbuster action feeling from a live play, but I’m sure many would agree this was as good as it gets on stage.
If you haven’t seen it yet and are still thinking about it, I definitely recommend it.
Helpful version as it contains subtitles for retention and comprehension of material not covered in class. A great comedy to pair with Twelfth Night, and resourceful for unpacking themes within the pastoral mode.
To Kill Myself – Rape of Lucrece
Wonderfully artistic visioning from The Royal Shakespeare Company.
Act 3, Scene 2 – The Winter’s Tale
Perhaps for me the standout example of a well spoken, educated, strong woman in all the texts covered this semester. A great reminder of our lectures covering the power and importance of words.
Romeo and Juliet – Onscreen footage
Everyone’s classic introduction to Shakespeare. I was reminded heavily of the play when reading The genres of Shakespeare’s plays, by Susan Snyder as she talks in depth about the reflection of youth in Shakespeare’s works. Characters become representations of the time period and a refection of society. This is set up immediately in Romeo and Juliet’s prologue, “Two households, both alike in dignity|In fair Verona, where we lay our scene|From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,|where civil blood makes civil hands unclean” (1.Pro.1-3).
Act 5, Scene 3 – King Lear
Continuing the consideration of genre, King Lear is a great example of ego and pride leading to a tragic end (which cannot be evaded). This is a very emotionally powerful clip displaying the effects of time within a tragedy.
this poster for king lear involves a background photo of opium flowers which i chose because while they are very pretty on the surface they are poisonous which i felt represented the eldest two sisters in the play. their words are pretty and nice but their intensions are not. this was also the reason for the line “beautiful lies”
I absolutely adored seeing this play. I found the performances outstanding, the story enthralling, and the setting and props the perfect balance between elaborate and simplistic. The actors brought their characters to life with a new depth I hadn’t seen till that point, and used body language and facial expressions to explore character dynamic more than the dialogue itself. Hopefully I’ll get to see more Shakespeare productions from Theatre Calgary in the future!
So, in collaboration with Hannah Anderson, I bring to you the rest of the transcript from the video blogs we recorded right after seeing the play! Our navigational skills are questionable at best, and we’re tired as all get out, but we talked about some good ideas and thoughts we had about the play. Hopefully they made sense.
King Lear Vlog: Transcript Part 2
In collaboration with Hannah Anderson
H: Hannah Anderson
K: Kate Anderson
The Drive Home
Together: [stare at each other]
[Moment of silence]
H/K: HOLY CRAP!
H: Okay, okay, well, wow, okay… That was…
K: We wanted blood but not that much blood.
H: So, we’re going to go through a recap of everything that happened in this play; it was really quite intense and…
K: Can I turn off the light?
H: Yah… the light’s going to go off, so you’re just going to be… [light turns off] look at that, my creepy face; hi! Yah, you’re just going to hear us talking about the play and all the intricacies there…
K: Holy crap, man!
H: Oh my gosh, it was like…
K: Oh my gosh, don’t even, no…
H: I can’t even. It was really, really good.
K: It was great. I loved it!
H: So, we had a list of things we wanted to say about this play; it was pretty extensive. There were some… [Turns to Kate] Just so you know this is a one way so please don’t kill us. Yes, that way.
K: I know. We’re driving right now.
H: Yes, we’re navigating through downtown, and it’s snowing like crazy and … what was I going to say? I had a whole list, of… [screams].
K: [distantly] Sorry.
H: Okay, the light is green now! And that is a one way, okay! We’re good, guys!
[Kate laughing distantly]
H: We’re doing seriously quite well. Okay. Let’s look at my list. We have a big list of things we wanted to talk about.
K: Do I go left?
H: Yes. Yes. We are going left. Right? Yes? I think so. We will figure this out. We are terrible navigators, and this is downtown. This’ll be interesting. So we wanted to talk about… [Holds up a notebook]. Alright, first off, setting. The was the stage was set up, there was a structure that looked a lot like rough, dark-wood scaffolding, and that served as the castle walls, it stood during the battle scenes…
K: It mostly represented the castle walls, but stayed set up for the entirety of the play. It was too bulky to take down.
H: But they moved the stairs around, and they had these grates that the put in front. So if it was a gate of a castle, they’d have the grates up, if they were inside, the grates would be off…
K: They had tapestries up if it was a scene indoors, as we previously mentioned.
H: Yes, they’d have the beautiful green and gold brocade up… was it brocade? Probably.
K: No, probably not. But we’ll just say its brocade because it sounds way classier than saying “Oh look, a piece of cloth that’s really cool looking.”
H: Exactly. Anyway, there was a table at the beginning…
K: In the first scene, as Lear is dividing his kingdom, they’re in the middle of a banquet. So they’re sitting at a very long banquet table, piled high with goblets, pitchers, and plates, with cushioned chairs all around it…
H: And candles! Cool candles! They were fake candles, but they were cool looking!
K: Yes, there were candles…
H: And they had torches! Later on they were carrying these awesome wicked torches that had actual fire! And it was really cool.
K: [glares] Anyway, in the following scene, they didn’t take the table off right away. When they moved the props for the scene to Goneril’s castle, they split the table into two, and put one on either side of the stage. So the big props never left the stage right away, but they were moved around and utilized very well. It was quite an efficient use of scenery. [To Hannah] What did you think of the bigger set pieces?
H: The bulky scenery…hmm. I really liked the scaffolding; it was really cool. It was a very interesting use of the space, because the characters could climb up different levels. Like in the beginning, King Lear comes down the stairs from the second balcony, and stays on them when he’s yelling at people, and it’s just a very interesting…power play, almost? Like, saying who’s in control and what not.
K: Yes, height was often used to convey power, which I found a unique and interesting interpretation of the play as far as stage direction goes.
H: And… ugh. [Kate laughs] It’s too late for this.
K: And I don’t really have anything bad to say about this.
H: It got a standing ovation at the end! Everyone was clapping and cheering, and I was almost asleep, because it’s… what time is it?
K: I don’t know.
H: I don’t even know, but I’m exhausted.
K: Let’s focus on the play, not your personal problems.
H: So, in the Maxbell theatre, they had the stage with the scaffolding set up, and the front of the stage is made of stairs. So actors were moving up and down the stairs, and there was a lot of stumbling about, and I thought people were going to fall, but they didn’t.
K: The couple of the exits were through the audience, so they’d run off the stage, around the back of the audience, and out through the doors.
H: It was an interesting way to include the audience in the action.
K: What with the stage stairs and the stairs on the scaffold, there was a lot for the actors to work with. But I actually found the scaffolding stairs a bit cumbersome in some instances, just because they used them during scenes that were supposed to be outside. They’d be on a moor, and characters would come on stage from the balcony and come down the stairs holding onto the rail. I don’t know if that was intentional, but it lessened my suspension of disbelief a bit because someone’s taking the stairs in the middle of a field.
K: It was fine, I know they had to take advantage of whatever they could, but it was a little weird in context of the scene.
H: Yah, it was odd. Anyway, in the beginning of the play, everyone comes on the stage right away, and you get to see some interaction before the action actually starts. Like, we saw some silent interaction among Cordelia, Regan, and Goneril, and could automatically infer that the sisterly relationships are strained, at best. I mean, it was obvious that they did not like each other at all.
K: We were also able to look closely at the characters and how they presented themselves on stage. Just by looking at the way he acted, I could tell Albany seemed like a pretty solid guy. And I don’t know if this was intentional, but Cornwall had a facial expression like a rat. That sounds really mean, and I don’t know if that was an intentional casting choice, but it gave me more insight into the character.
H: The casting choice for Edmund was interesting too, because he was the only person in the play who was not white. It added another layer of complexity onto the bastard problem. But his appearance didn’t matter too much, but his bearing, the way he walked onto the stage, tells you automatically so much about his character. The way he nonverbally reacts when his dad’s talking to Kent conveys how unenthused he is about being called a bastard regularly. He just looks so upset that his dad thinks he’s less than, and you kind of feel for him for a little bit. And then you get to his monologues and you realize he’s just conniving!
K: But his reactions were phenomenal! I was watching him while Gloucester was speaking, and his facial expressions as people are talking over him are fantastic! There’s so much you can infer about his character just by looking at him when other people are talking. And especially when he’s in the middle of tricking someone, he just has this look of child-like glee on his face, and it is so fun to see!
H: Yes, that was the best. In the beginning of the play, Cordelia’s facial expressions were on point too! I was watching her primarily in that scene, and as Lear’s talking about the kingdom and her sisters are buttering him up, you can immediately tell what she’s thinking. They didn’t even need to do the asides, I don’t think, because her expressions conveyed everything.
K: It is part of the play.
H: Yah, it is part of the play, so that was a good call from the director. Moving back to Edmund’s awesome facial expressions. When Edmund’s giving his dad the letter that is supposedly from his bro, Edgar, and Gloucester is reading this letter, Edmund looks just so pleased with himself. I mean, he looked like a little kid in a candy shop!
K: He was practically jumping up and down with glee! Actually, he nearly did…
H: Yah, after Gloucester left the stage, he basically did a little jazz hands and leapt into the air, like “Guess what I did, guys!”
K: “I am awesome!”
H: Precisely. The stage directions, overall, were very well done.
K: The sounds were also phenomenal, too.
H: Yah, the beginning choral music that preceded the play gave me full out shivers, and totally sucked you in to the tragedy and the world of the play.
K: It almost echoed the animal like nature of the play, and how everyone’s going to kill each other.
H: The rain and lightning sounds later on were fantastic too, and incredibly well timed. The sounds, especially the lightening strikes, were so effective in highlighting important parts of the play, and were really powerful. They also used fog during the storm, which helped to set the tone.
K: They used sound and body language really well to convey the weather and the rain, I thought. The actors actually looked like they were drenched even when no water was used at all. You could actually see rain falling on the characters when there really wasn’t. The backdrop and lights also gave the stage a sense of depth, like there was more going on then what was being focused on in centre stage.
H: The stage was a lot deeper than met the eye… The cool thing about the scaffolding is that you could see through it. Like in the second scene, when Regan and Goneril are talking to each other, you can see France and Cordelia leaving Lear’s castle from behind the scaffolding, which was pretty cool.
K: Yah, you saw them leave as other people were talking, and just seeing them walk out was like “No, Cordelia, come back!” That was an interesting interpretation, and it didn’t really occur to me that they could do something like that. But it worked really well.
H: They also should Edgar being chased about. Like people with torches running about on stage, like “Edgar, you can’t hide, we’re going to find you!” And he actually climbed up to the tiny, third balcony and… stripped. Essentially.
K: [laughs] That was an interesting call on the director’s part.
H: And I guess there was a little mud up there too, in a jar, or something, so he smeared mud all over himself… So that was an interesting bit.
K: Did that take away from it for you?
H: Um, no. It actually… It enhanced it. He was a muscular dude, let’s just leave it at that.
K: [stares at Hannah]
H: [coughs awkwardly]
H: The other bit was…in the end scene… it was so sad, I cried! The actor who played Lear… was just so phenomenal, alternating between happy, like “Oh, look it, she’s so beautiful,” and crying that she was dead and everyone was a traitor for not saving her.
K: He was mad, by that point, and that was conveyed fantastically.
H: And in that scene as well, Cordelia actually had make-up on her neck to look like bruises from a rope, ‘cause she had been hanged, just like fool in the BBC version, and that was an interesting parallel… wait, did that even happen?
K: No, and that sort of confused me a little bit. In the BBC version, he got hanged, onstage, and I thought that was a really good way to knock him out, but in this version…
H: He just walked off the stage.
K: Yah, he just handed his stuff to Edgar and walked off the stage. I mean, do you have any reason to walk off the stage? I didn’t understand it. Did he die? Did he just take a vacation? Did he go to Hawaii or something? I mean, this was probably truer to what would have happened in an original Shakespearian production, but I preferred the Royal Shakespeare Company’s interpretation better.
H: Anyway, Cornelia’s make-up looked exactly like a rope-bruise, and it was incredibly done.
K: Well, we’re home now, so we’ll get to the infamous eye scene in a minute.
H: Yes, once we get out of this car and get inside, we’ll talk some more. See you in a minute.
K: Bye, guys!
Late Night PJ Talk
H: It’s really late.
K: It is quite late, yah.
H: I wanna go to bed now.
K: But first, more Shakespeare.
H: Yes. So, before we go to bed, we wanted to talk quickly about a couple of things… first off Cordelia. When we first see Cordelia in the second half, she comes on stage in chain mail.
K: She has a sword!
H: And she’s fighting with France, like, equality! Yes!
K: It was a good, empowering sort of costuming decision.
H: Cordelia was doing her own thing.
K: It gave her a little more character, and little more depth. Like, in the BBC version, she’s just wandering around in a cape, doing little to nothing.
H: In this one, she’s ready to fight!
K: That was sort of annoying later, and a bit contradictory, ‘cause they walked in after the battle, and Lear and Cordelia were prisoners, but her sword was still hanging off her belt.
K: Yah, she still had her sword with her!
H: What? Why didn’t she kill someone?
K: I know, right? I was, like, “Draw it and kill someone!”
H: Cordelia, you missed a golden opportunity.
K: Yah, you could have saved so many lives if you had just killed Edmund right then and there. And all your problems would have been solved.
H: She may have still died though.
[They share a thoughtful look]
K: Yah, she might have.
H: Anyway, she had her own powerful character, and it was cool.
K: You wanna say anything about the eye bit?
H: Right. There was so much blood.
K: We said we wanted blood, we said if we didn’t see blood we’d be disappointed, but… that was too much blood. I couldn’t actually watch it; I had to look away.
H: First of all, they tied him to a post. Which was worrying. And then Cornwall stabbed out the first eye…and there was so much blood. They did some sort of slight of hand, and the make-up was put on in seconds.
K: The effects for that were freakily good. His eye went black and bloody right away.
H: And for the next one, Cornwall pulled Gloucester’s eye out—we actually saw that—he held it for a while, and then he dropped it. And then he stepped on it!
K: It was disgusting! He just shoved his hand in there and… [flails hand around wildly] AHH no no no no…
H: It looked so real! There were two older women beside us who basically lost their minds. [Kate laughs] As soon as the eyeball dropped, they just lost it. And it was hilarious.
K: Anyway, it was quite a dramatic adaptation with lots of elaborate choices in costumes, scenery, and effects—except for the fight scenes, for the most part. The eye scene, especially, was amazingly done. The actors were fantastic, and allowed me to see past the elaborateness of the props and really focus on character dynamics.
H: I thought it was really well done. The actors turned the poetry in prose very well, making the play easy to understand even if you hadn’t seen Shakespeare before. Character interpretations were also fantastic. Lear was awesome; Cornelia just conveyed so much strength of character, even though she wasn’t on stage as much… Edmund was a conniving little cuss…
K: He was… he was just so happy about it. He was evil and happy about it. And besides the monologues, it was conveyed almost entirely through body language while other people were on stage.
H: It was a good play. Would you give it a number rating?
K: No. Not really. I thought it was well interpreted, combining elaborate props and incredible performances to create an engrossing play.
H: I would agree. I really enjoyed going.
K: Anyway, that’s all for our King Lear… I don’t know what to call this.
H: We’ll try to get this posted… soon? Yes.
K: [muttering] I need to go to bed now.
H: [muttering] Me too. Anyway.
And thus, any hope of becoming Shakespearean focused YouTubers we had promptly fizzled out and died.
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.
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
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.
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.
Prior to Entry
H: Hellooooo! Here we are! In the parking lot! We’re getting ready to see King Lear! It’s gonna be… good? Hopefully?
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.]
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: 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: They took the tapestries down?
K: yes. They took the tapestries down.
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: 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: 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.
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.
K: SHUT UP.
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: I am really upset about this.
K: Set, music, costumes…
K: OH MY GOSH 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!
And that is the story of how we decided that we probably couldn’t make a career as YouTubers.
Last weekend, I finally got to see my first live play ever – King Lear at Max Bell Theater.
I found it thoroughly enjoyable (also it was more fun than the movie, for me at least). Here is a response on my experience with the play as opposed to the movie.
My first dilemma with the play was, well, on what I should be wearing. It was my first live play ever, and Shakespearean too – I wanted to be sophisticated (silly little whims, I know). On the other hand, with the movie, the first dilemma was: I have read the play, how long can I delay watching the movie until it is absolutely necessary?
Jokes aside (yes, those were jokes. Ha ha, very funny, Jayesha, please proceed), it was certainly not what I had expected. There were lighting directions and sound effects. It did aid in where the director had wanted to focus the scene on. However, everything else that was not directly under the spotlight was till open to interpretation and analyzing. With the movie, the camera would zoom into a specific part of the act and force you to focus on that.
Furthermore, I felt that the actors that played the characters were more close to my own imagination when I first read the play. The costuming, however, were very similar in the movie and the play. King Lear is initially dressed in red: madness, passion, rage. The two sisters are dressed in darker colors: evil, cunning, deceitful, jealous. And Cordelia is in lighter colors: pure, innocent, untarnished.
Moreover, I did notice the play was easier to follow along with, when compared to the movie. The lines were still powerfully delivered, but they were clear and carried more raw emotion. Perhaps, it was because the actors knew that this was now or never, as opposed to in a movie, when you have the liberty of redoing a scene if there is a light mishap.
I also found the play more captivating than the movie. The movie seemed to lag on and on, although they were the same lengths.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I know this is something I would like to make a part of my hobbies – live plays and reviews on them.
Following what Theresa has said in a previous post, I’ve decided to make an effort to create and post up more art and images as much as I can. The movie poster idea has been in my mind for a while, but before I go any further I present to you my movie poster concept for King Lear:
And yes, that is Andrew modeling as King Lear.
I must say that I had more fun than I thought I would making this poster. Initially I had ideas that were maybe a bit too complicated.
Like this one:
I still think it would have been cool to do something like this…but oh well.
We took a couple different shots. They were all pretty good, and I had a hard time choosing one to use for the poster. Here are some of them:
And before this post gets too long I think I’ll end here with some credits.
Model: Andrew Lane (as King Lear)
Photography, Costume, and Photo-editing: Ishmael Gowralli
Hope you all enjoyed this and feel free to comment!
Since I was not able to make it to the March 7th screening at Cineplex Crowfoot, I drove all the way to the Scotiabank Theatre at Chinook last Sunday to see Stratford Festival’s King Lear performance. The almost 45-minute drive and the 3-hour duration of the film performance were well worth it because it was a great watch. Though it only seemed to cater to the tastes of elderly people (I was the youngest person in theatre), it was actually engaging and I did not feel like I had to endure watching it.
As the filmed performance begins, the stage at the centre caught my eye. I found the polygonal shape of the stage with the few steps surrounding it interesting. Then, Act 1 rolled in and I saw how the specific way the stage was built created a unique placement for the characters. It made the view more appealing and shows which character the viewers should focus on. I also found that the staging went accordingly with some of the implications in the play–like after Cordelia was stripped off of her crown and inheritance, and she stood by the steps the whole time, shows how she is no longer of importance to her father and that she is looked down upon. This unique stage set-up is not just for the aesthetic, it reflects some ideas in the play and gives a non-monotonous view, which other theatres whose stages simply face the audience cannot provide.
And since this performance was filmed, I found that the camera shots had an additional effect into giving various points of view as well as showing which characters to focus on. The main reason why I found this production more lively and interesting is the various camera shots, and not just filming the play in one angle. As well, it gave a more elaborate perception on how some parts of the play were interpreted. The tilted camera view when King Lear was under the rain, which goes so well in showing he’s going mad; the close-up shot with Cordelia and King Lear finally reuniting, really giving focus on the emotional scenes; and the low angle shot, such as when King Lear and Edgar as Poor Tom were speaking, implying how low they have reached because of people betraying them. It is hard to understand a Shakespeare play when you are witnessing the performance before you read the text, but Stratford Festival’s production made it not seem so.
Another thing that makes this play stand out is the lighting. I found it really effective in conveying the mood of various scenes, such as when Edmund was plotting and the lighting was dark, or when King Lear was satisfied with his daughters’ proclamation of love, where the lighting was bright. Just how the lighting worked in the play was really fascinating and eye-catching. The cleverly crafted lighting was also used when transitioning between scenes, and it was very effective and it made transitioning seamless.
The music, though usually faint, was cleverly used for transitioning and I like how the music is crushing and loud as the scene opens with the antagonists. I specifically liked the music when Edgar fights Edmund. The music remains subtle but still gives rise to suspense. If the scene was left with just the swords clattering, I might have fallen asleep.
This staged performance of King Lear might have been simple, not even using a lot of props, just a few ones. Yet, all these simple production techniques—staging, lighting, music, and cinematography—were all creatively conducted that the entire play is now added in My Favourite Film Performances list. Stratford Festival’s King Lear is also making me want to check out their other Shakespeare performances.
I know this is a bit late for this play. However when I was thinking of doing a drawing of any of the plays so far the one that spoke to me the most was King Lear in this medium. Most specifically during the time when the weather as in the storm reflects his inner mental turmoil. This picture is meant to illustrate that. I also chose to leave color out as my feeling is this scene is very dark.
King Lear stands as one of Shakespeare’s most captivatingly tragic plays and watching the Stratford Festival’s performance of it last Saturday, March 7 was a real treat. I definitely enjoyed it, much more than I thought I would. Although the 2008 TV film was also well done, I found myself much more enthusiastic and staying with the storyline when I had audience queues to work off of and when the actors were more interactive with the audience. The atmosphere also played a major role in holding my attention – the dim lights, quiet, lack of distractions (like my phone!) and reactions of the audience to jokes and action made the experience more fulfilling and authentic than staring at my computer screen at home.
Prior to the film starting, a nice introduction played, showing the backstage area, actors, and other plays and behind-the-scenes glances into how the Stratford Festival put on their Shakespearean and other plays. Especially intriguing was the amount and quality of the costumes. Even the Queen was impressed with their rendition of her crown. The authenticity of their costumes and props is very impressive. What also probed my interest was the little questionnaire that was displayed. Did you know that King Lear introduced many new words to the English language? Dislocate, half-blooded and unaccommodated were all used first by Shakespeare in this play.
The play itself began cinematically. A feisty storm with flashy bolts of lightning started the introductory credits. I was worried it would not be true to the style of Shakespeare where props and effects were limited, but the actual play began with a dark stage and only some sound-effects. Once the actors began speaking their lines, I was assured that it would be a well-rounded performance.
I particularly appreciated the interpretation of characters. They differed significantly from the way some actors interpreted their characters in the 2008 TV film (although both interpretations could be deemed accurate portrayals and were well acted). In the 2008 film, I found Regan’s character to be quite discrete and timid, especially during the first scene; in Stratford’s version, her character spoke loudly and confidently. I also found Gonneril’s characterization to be more snooty and stuck-up, which complimented Regan’s character really well, and provided a great contrast near the end when they fight over Edmund. As well, Cordelia’s character was more sassy and rebellious in the 2008 version (at least at first), deliberately going against him to prove her true character and be legitimate. She was more emotional and trying to induce rationality into her father, though clearly outraged at her sisters’ false gushing over their father. Stratford’s Cordelia dealt with a more painful separation from her father than the 2008 character. Kent was also more involved – he speaks and plays a greater role. Edmund’s characterization was, if possible, even more slimy – I found I disliked him even more in this version due to the ability of the actor to portray that sickly suck-up attitude. I wasn’t disappointed with the acting of King Lear – Ian McKellan’s performance had a lot to live up to in my mind. Nevertheless, the actor was dramatic, humorous and had good timing. I was especially impressed during the scene with “Poor Tom” and Gloucester where he has his flower crown on and is sinking into madness – it brought out a mixture of sympathy and hilarity. Overall, all the actors spoke their lines as though they understood exactly what they were saying and were having actual conversations, with either other characters or were announcing to the audience themselves.
I would definitely recommend seeing King Lear (or any Shakespeare play) performed on a stage, either live or filmed from the audience as in the Stratford Festival’s performance. It is a great addition to the required watching of it as a movie done cinematically. I personally will plan on seeing the King Lear showing on April 7th!