"This complex tragedy of a powerful, but ignorant, king who is transformed by the loss of everything into becoming a simpleman with nothing except his knowledge of himself and his empathy for his down-trodden people is often cited as Shakespeare’s finest play. It is the great play about homelessness - very relevant today as Ireland grapples with its housing crisis.
It also has much to say about wisdom and power, especially in the light of recent political regime change across the western world. Shakespeare expertly balances James I’s propaganda (in favour of political union) with his own astute political critique (against the devastating Enclosures Act) and shows us a world where the poor and dispossessed are neglected by those in power.
It is a moralising tale, and like so many of his other royal plays, it fairly forcefully presents the personal qualities and attributes needed by a king if he wishes to be seen as a divinely sanctioned ruler.
Threaded through the propaganda is a complex existential philosophy brilliantly presented in the character of Gloucester, and epitomised by Edgar (in the strange, short and thrilling Act 5 Scene 2) with
"Men must endure / Their going hence, even as their coming hither; / Ripeness is all.”
At one point in this scene, and uniquely in Shakespeare, there is on the stage just a blind, old man, a bare tree, and no dialogue, for an unspecified length of time. Nothing seems to be happening. What is Gloucester doing? 350 years later we get the fullest expression of this idea and image in Beckett’s great Waiting for Godot.
Many of the complex ideas are made clear only in the staging of the play (such as Lear’s fear of entering the hovel-and of confronting the nothingness of madness; or of the wheel of fortune coming full circle-with a macabre final image drawn from the opening image).
Directed by Peter Hussey, it features young actors from Kildare schools who are studying this text for their Leaving Cert in 2018."
King Lear follows a Kildare Youth Theatre tradition of performing Shakespearean plays which are on that years Leaving Certificate examination. Performances therefore involve a mix of private shows exclusively for local schools, as well as ordinary public performances.
Excerpt from our pre-show Booklet.
A selection of images taken during a rehearsal session:
Some interesting ideas raised during show rehearsals:
Full Cast and Production Team:
Images taken from a live performance of King Lear:
Watch below Act 5 Scene 2: The lone Gloucester, dreaming a merciful death (Doug Morrison)
A live, unedited performance of our 2017 King Lear production can be watched in its entirety below:
A blog, written by cast members, reflecting on their time on rehearsing and performing the show, can be read on an online PDF here.