Thursday, February 3, 2011

King Lear


Simulcasts are wonderful 21st century inventions! Today I saw a performance from the wee Donmar Theatre in London with Sir Derek Jocobi playing King Lear -- directed by the Donmar's artistic director Michale Grandage [at right in above photo]. As TV hostess, Esther Freud said "tens and tens of thousands of people around the world watched the performance IN REAL TIME." Which means the 8 o'clock performance in London began at 2:00 here on the US East Coast.

One cannot just go to a simulcast of a Shakespearean play and expect to get the most our of the play. I was very remiss in not rereading the play in the last week. For most of the first act I was confused about who the various Dukes were -- there are so many in the royal plays! The sisters were clear enough, of course. In the second act I was and am still confused about when Lear actually died and what was fantasy and what real. I never thought there were fantasy scenes but in this production there were. I have to talk to someone with a better grasp of the play than I have after quite of few years of not having read it. I do not understand how people [and I think it's most theatre goers] who haven't very recently immersed themselves in the play can keep up with what's happening and who's who. I wonder what do most people get out of such an afternoon.

Intimate knoweldge of te play is important but the actors are so consummately fine in their roles it's possible to just admire their acting. Kent and Edmund, the fool, Edgar and, of course the sisters were always perfect. And Jacobi was marvelous at every step, in every mood and moment. Fortunately I think I can get some clarification tomorrow as I'm seeing someone who was also there and who, I think, is more deeply steeped in the play than I am.

There was a technological problem in the second act; they had said at the beginning this was the first simulcast from the Donmar's tiny theatre. I think they actually stopped the performance for a few minutes and then restarted a minute or so back. In this particular filming there were very few close ups, the video was less sophisticated than was the video of the
Nevertheless, I could not have imagined fifty years ago when I used to spend Saturday afternoons listening to Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts that eventually both opera and theatre would be broadcast in video literally all over the world in real time. I know it's not magic but it certainly seems magical to me.

3 comments:

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June, I lead a simple life and enjoy it yet I cannot imagine being without my computer and all the treats it gives me like videos etc. I have been without T.V. for many years and have not missed it. I know that you have stated in past writings that you do not have a T.V. so I am assuming you still do not. I find that the computer is a handy thing for entertainment and news if you want to watch it. I can't imagine why we really need television. -- barbara

June Calender said...

I totally agree with you, Barbara. I haven't had a TV since '89. I hope I didn't give the impression the Lear was on TV -- it was in a movie theatre as are the simulcasts from the Metropolitan opera. I actually never watch CDs or live shows on my computer although I read a great deal on it and do research and, of course, blogs, and the sort videos people send me, usually ones from You Tube.

schmidleysscribblins said...

I too, run for the copy of the play and read it when I watch something by Shakespeare. You are so fortunate to still receive live broadcasts of plays. At best we get a rebroadcast of a preiously recorded play on our public television. Thank goodness for BBC or we would live in a cultural desert. Dianne