Category: King Lear

‘King Lear’: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson To Reunite For BBC2 & Amazon

‘King Lear’: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson To Reunite For BBC2 & Amazon:

What a cast!

Nancy Meckler’s production of King Lear brings the play’s humour…

Nancy Meckler’s production of King Lear brings the play’s humour and humanity to the fore in this production, as the notion of familial love is questioned and torn apart.

Now in the Globe Theatre until Saturday 14 October. 
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Streamed for the first time into cinemas across the UK and Ireland on Thursday 21 September. Find a cinema near you. 

King Lear: Audience Reactions

King Lear, directed by Nancy Meckler, is now playing in the Globe Theatre until Saturday 14 October. Here’s what audiences have been saying about the production so far.

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King Lear: Your Senses Grow Imperfect Pictured: Kevin R McNally…

King Lear: Your Senses Grow Imperfect

Pictured: Kevin R McNally (Lear) and Burt Caesar (Gloucester). Image credit: Marc Brenner

Research Coordinator Jen Edwards considers what it means to trust the senses in King Lear.

Our senses, you will find, did first provide
The idea of truth, they cannot be denied
[…]
In what then should we place a greater trust
Than in the senses?

Lucretius, De Rerum Natura

‘In what should we place a greater trust than in the senses?’ asks Roman poet-philosopher Lucretius, considering the senses as the beginning and end of human knowledge. But early modern essayist Michel de Montaigne was not so sure. ‘I have my doubts’, he writes, ‘whether Man is provided with all the senses of nature’. Questioning the possibility that we might ‘not still lack one, two, three, or many other senses’, Montaigne grows anxious that the senses might be limited, and that there might be something beyond those limits. ‘The senses’, he fears, ‘are inadequate’.

Reading John Florio’s translation of Montaigne’s essays (published in 1603), these debates might have given Shakespeare pause. From Othello’s desire for ‘ocular proof’, to Hermione’s seeming warm-to-the-touch body in The Winter’s Tale, his plays are filled with moments that call into question whether or not we can rely on what our senses tell us. 

This is perhaps most radically the case in King Lear, a play in which characters repeatedly place their trust in the senses only to find them to be tragically ‘untuned and jarring’, ‘stiff’, ‘vile’, ‘broken’, and ‘bereaved’.

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Pictured: Kenton Thomas (Ensemble). Image credit: Marc Brenner

Time and again the play makes clear the risk of placing too much trust in the senses. ‘I love you… dearer than eyesight’, answers Goneril to Lear’s love-test in the play’s opening scene, a claim that chimes with early modern anatomical thought which similarly placed significant value on sight: ‘Of these five senses, sight is held to be the most precious, and the best’, as the seventeenth-century writer Robert Burton put it. If we rank the senses according to the frequency with which they are mentioned in Lear, we uncover a model that reflects the early modern sensory hierarchy: sight is regarded as the most esteemed, followed by hearing, smell, taste and lastly touch.

Paying attention to the senses in Lear leads us to a key scene in Act 4, set on a cliff above Dover, where Edgar (disguised as Poor Tom) leads his blind father to believe that they stand ‘within a foot of th’extreme verge’

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Pictured: Joshua James (Edgar). Image credit: Marc Brenner

The scene contains almost a quarter of the text’s allusions to seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and ‘sense’ more broadly. But it is here that Shakespeare most explicitly unsettles the sensory hierarchy, and here that the now blind Gloucester’s senses are tried and tested, not only standing in for sight, but also coming under direct scrutiny:

EDGAR Hark, do you hear the sea?
GLOUCESTER No, truly.
EDGAR Why then your other senses grow imperfect.

In such a context we are forced to concede, like Montainge, that although ‘the senses are the sovereign masters of our knowledge… they are [also] uncertain and deceivable in all circumstances’.

Longing to ‘live to see’ his son Edgar ‘in [his] touch’, Gloucester finds himself in a world where he must learn to see ‘feelingly’. And so in moments where Lear urges Gloucester to ‘see how the world goes with no eyes’ and ‘look with thine ears’, Shakespeare envisages the possibility of sight via touch and sound. In this he presents a synesthetic model, where one sense stands in for or merges with another. Shakespeare has taken Bottom’s comic jumbling of the senses in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (‘the eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen…’) and infused it with tragic potential.

And so while Lucretius rhetorically questions whether there is anything more trustworthy than our senses, Lear puts that question centre stage. The play might not provide an answer, but by exploring what happens when our senses fail us, or when we place too must trust in what we see and hear, Shakespeare dramatises alternative ways of thinking about his culture’s sensory hierarchy.  

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Pictured: Loren O’Dair (Fool). Image credit: Marc Brenner

shakespearesglobeblog: King Lear: In Photos King Lear is now…


Kevin R McNally (Lear) and Burt Caesar (Gloucester)


Loren O’Dair (Fool)


Kenton Thomas (Ensemble)


Anjana Vasan (Cordelia)


Kevin R McNally (Lear)


Sirine Saba (Regan)


Joshua James (Edgar)


Saskia Reeves (Kent)


The King Lear company in performance on the Globe stage.

shakespearesglobeblog:

King Lear: In Photos

King Lear is now playing in the Globe Theatre until Saturday 14 October.  

Nancy Meckler brings to life the play’s tempestuous poetry with touches of humour and moments of heart-rending simplicity, as the notion of familial love is questioned and torn apart in this charismatic and powerful production.

Listen to interviews with the actors. 

Watch our video features.

Book tickets

(Image credits: Marc Brenner)

Seeing this in October. Can’t wait!

King Lear: In PhotosKing Lear is now playing in the Globe…


Kevin R McNally (Lear) and Burt Caesar (Gloucester)


Loren O’Dair (Fool)


Kenton Thomas (Ensemble)


Anjana Vasan (Cordelia)


Kevin R McNally (Lear)


Sirine Saba (Regan)


Joshua James (Edgar)


Saskia Reeves (Kent)


The King Lear company in performance on the Globe stage.

King Lear: In Photos

King Lear is now playing in the Globe Theatre until Saturday 14 October.  

Nancy Meckler brings to life the play’s tempestuous poetry with touches of humour and moments of heart-rending simplicity, as the notion of familial love is questioned and torn apart in this charismatic and powerful production.

Listen to interviews with the actors. 

Watch our video features.

Book tickets

(Image credits: Marc Brenner)

Your Senses Grow Imperfect

Research Coordinator Jen Edwards considers what it means to trust the senses in King Lear…

Our senses, you will find, did first provide
The idea of truth, they cannot be denied
[…]
In what then should we place a greater trust
Than in the senses?
– Lucretius, De Rerum Natura

‘In what should we place a greater trust than in the senses?’ asks Roman poet-philosopher Lucretius, considering the senses as the beginning and end of human knowledge. But early modern essayist Michel de Montaigne was not so sure. ‘I have my doubts’, he writes, ‘whether Man is provided with all the senses of nature’. Questioning the possibility that we might ‘not still lack one, two, three, or many other senses’, Montaigne grows anxious that the senses might be limited, and that there might be something beyond those limits. ‘The senses’, he fears, ‘are inadequate’.

Reading John Florio’s translation of Montaigne’s essays (published in 1603), these debates might have given Shakespeare pause. From Othello’s desire for ‘ocular proof’, to Hermione’s seeming warm-to-the-touch body in The Winter’s Tell, his plays are filled with moments that call into question whether or not we can rely on what our senses tell us. This is perhaps most radically the case in King Lear, a play in which characters repeatedly place their trust in the senses only to find them to be tragically ‘untuned and jarring’, ‘stiff’, ‘vile’, ‘broken’, and ‘bereaved’.

Time and again the play makes clear the risk of placing too much trust in the senses. ‘I love you … dearer than eyesight’, answers Goneril to Lear’s love-test in the play’s opening scene, a claim that chimes with early modern anatomical thought which similarly placed significant value on sight: ‘Of these five senses, sight is held to be the most precious, and the best’, as the  seventeenth-century writer Robert Burton put it. If we rank the senses according to the frequency with which they are mentioned in Lear, we uncover a model that reflects the early modern sensory hierarchy: sight is regarded as the most esteemed, followed by hearing, smell, taste and lastly touch.

Paying attention to the senses in Lear leads us to a key scene in Act 4, set on a cliff above Dover, where Edgar (disguised as Poor Tom) leads his blind father to believe that they stand ‘within a foot of th’extreme verge’. The scene contains almost a quarter of the text’s allusions to seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and ‘sense’ more broadly. But it is here that Shakespeare most explicitly unsettles the sensory hierarchy, and here that the now blind Gloucester’s senses are tried and tested, not only standing in for sight, but also coming under direct scrutiny:

EDGAR Hark, do you hear the sea?
GLOUCESTER No, truly.
EDGAR Why then your other senses grow imperfect.

In such a context we are forced to concede, like Montainge, that although ‘the senses are the sovereign masters of our knowledge … they are [also] uncertain and deceivable in all circumstances’.

Longing to ‘live to see’ his son Edgar ‘in [his] touch’, Gloucester finds himself in a world where he must learn to see ‘feelingly’. And so in moments where Lear urges Gloucester to ‘see how the world goes with no eyes’ and ‘look with thine ears’, Shakespeare envisages the possibility of sight via touch and sound. In this he presents a synesthetic model, where one sense stands in for or merges with another. Shakespeare has taken Bottom’s comic jumbling of the senses in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (‘the eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen…’) and infused it with tragic potential.

And so while Lucretius rhetorically questions whether there is anything more trustworthy than our senses, Lear puts that question centre stage. The play might not provide an answer, but by exploring what happens when our senses fail us, or when we place too must trust in what we see and hear, Shakespeare dramatizes alternative ways of thinking about his culture’s sensory hierarchy.  

King Lear: Rehearsal Photos King Lear’s tempestuous poetry is…


Burt Caesar (Gloucester)


Thomas Padden (Albany)


Saskia Reeves (Kent)


Emily Bruni (Goneril) and Sirine Saba (Regan)


Faz Singhateh (Cornwall)


Kevin McNally (Lear) and Loren O’Dair (Fool)


Buom Tihngang (France)


Christopher Nayak (Oswald) and Loren O’Dair (Fool)


Kenton Thomas (Ensemble), Joshua James (Edgar), Anjana Vasan (Cordelia) and Loren O’Dair (Fool)

King Lear: Rehearsal Photos

King Lear’s tempestuous poetry is shot through with touches of humour and moments of heart-rending simplicity, as the notion of familial love is questioned and torn apart. 

Directed by Nancy Meckler, King Lear will play in the Globe Theatre from Thursday 10 August – Saturday 14 October.  

(Image credits: Marc Brenner)

Our First Live Cinema broadcastCinemaLive and Shakespeare’s…

Our First Live Cinema broadcast

CinemaLive and Shakespeare’s Globe are pleased to announce – our first ever live cinema broadcast!

King Lear will be broadcast live in over 300 cinemas across the UK & Ireland for one night only on 21 September 2017 at 7.30pm.

This is the first performance to be broadcast live to cinemas across the country from our home on London’s Bankside.

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The production will be streamed live from Shakespeare’s Globe. Photo: Pete Le May.

CinemaLive is a multi-award winning specialist in event cinema which distributes and delivers live and recorded content theatrically to over 70 countries worldwide.

Actor Kevin McNally, best known to audiences worldwide for his role as Gibbs in The Pirates of the Caribbean film series, takes on the role of King Lear.

Directed by Nancy Meckler, you can find out more about the production of King Lear on the Shakespeares’s Globe website.

Tickets go on sale this Wednesday 19 July via the Cinema Live website: follow us on Twitter for future announcements with regards to newly-added venues.

Summer of Love: King Lear Casting UpdateWe’re thrilled to…

Summer of Love: King Lear Casting Update

We’re thrilled to announce the full cast for Nancy Meckler’s upcoming production of King Lear. Joining Kevin McNally will be…

Emily Bruni (Goneril), Louisa Beadel (Ensemble/Musician), Burt Caesar (Gloucester), Ralph Davis (Edmund), Joshua James (Edgar), Kevin McNally (Lear), Christopher Nayak (Oswald), Loren O’Dair (Fool), Thomas Padden (Albany), Saskia Reeves (Kent), Sirine Saba (Regan), Faz Singhateh (Cornwall), Kenton Thomas (Ensemble), Buom Tihngang (France), and Anjana Vasan (Cordelia).

King Lear plays in the Globe Theatre 10 August – 14 October. Find out more and buy tickets.