- From: July 22, 2019
- To: July 22, 2019
- Starting at: 08:00 PM
- Finishing at: 10:00 PM
- The Old Fire Station
- 2a Norwood High Street
- SE27 9NS
- United Kingdom
by William Shakespeare
Director: Bex Law
Performances: October 22-26, 2019
First rehearsal: August 25, 2019
Lear’s grip on her country is fading. The war with climate change is all but lost, her daughters are fighting over the scraps and the rain is raining every day. As Britain fractures, will a ray of hope shine through?
SLT will be presenting Shakespeare’s King Lear, using a lightly edited version of the original text. This production is set in the near future, in a fractured Britain. The climate emergency and political upheaval put Lear in power a couple of decades ago, and we meet her now, with the question of succession and the pressures of time and nature weighing heavily.
The part of Lear was cast in our first round of auditions, and will be played by Helen Chadney. This production will not be cast according to traditional gender roles, so please do audition for the parts that interest you, regardless of the usual gender of the character.
“Shakespeare had an interest in human beings… A healthier way of looking at his work [is] to think what type of human being is this, as opposed to whether they are male or female. The plays are much bigger and multitudinous than that.”
Michelle Terry, Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe, quoted in an article from The Stage
We are looking to cast as diversely as possible, and keen to work with people regardless of previous experience performing Shakespeare. Basically, don’t let the language put you off!
Please download the audition pieces and read them enough to be familiar with them. You are not expected to learn the pieces. You are welcome to attend any of the audition dates, but please arrive promptly at the start time as we will work through the scenes as a group.
GONERIL Lear’s ruthless oldest daughter and the wife of the duke of Albany. Goneril is jealous, treacherous, and amoral. Shakespeare’s audience would have been particularly shocked at Goneril’s aggressiveness, a quality that it would not have expected in a female character. She challenges Lear’s authority, boldly initiates an affair with Edmund, and wrests military power away from her husband.
REGAN Lear’s middle daughter and the wife of the duke of Cornwall. Regan is as ruthless as Goneril and as aggressive in all the same ways. In fact, it is difficult to think of any quality that distinguishes her from her sister. When they are not egging each other on to further acts of cruelty, they jealously compete for the same person, Edmund.
CORDELIA Lear’s youngest daughter, disowned by her father for refusing to flatter him. Cordelia is held in extremely high regard by all of the good characters in the play — France marries her for her virtue alone, overlooking her lack of dowry. She remains loyal to Lear despite her cruelty toward her, forgives her, and displays a mild and forbearing temperament even toward her evil sisters, Goneril and Regan. Despite her obvious virtues, Cordelia’s reticence makes her motivations difficult to read, as in her refusal to declare her love for her father at the beginning of the play.
ALBANY The partner of Lear’s daughter Goneril. Albany is good at heart, and eventually denounces and opposes the cruelty of Goneril, Regan, and Cornwall. Yet the character is indecisive and lacks foresight, realising the evil of their allies quite late in the play.
CORNWALL The partner of Lear’s daughter Regan. Unlike Albany, Cornwall is domineering, cruel and violent, and works with Regan and Goneril to persecute Lear and Gloucester.
FRANCE The monarch of France. France is honourable and willing to support Cordelia’s efforts to rescue her father. France points out that she is a prize as great as any dowry. France’s support of Cordelia reveals that the character is, indeed, worthy of Cordelia’s love.
BURGUNDY Burgundy rejects Cordelia when it is revealed that she will bring no dowry or inheritance. Burgundy, who cannot love Cordelia without her wealth, is guilty of selfish motivations.
KENT A noble of the same rank as Gloucester who is loyal to Lear. Kent spends most of the play disguised as a peasant, named “Caius,” so that the character can continue to serve Lear even when banished by Lear. Kent is extremely loyal, but gets into trouble throughout the play by being very blunt and outspoken.
GLOUCESTER A noble loyal to Lear whose rank, earl, is below that of duke. The first thing we learn about Gloucester is that the character is an adulterer, having had a bastard child, Edmund. Gloucester’s fate is in many ways parallel to that of Lear: they misjudge which of their children to trust. Gloucester appears weak and ineffectual in the early acts, and is unable to prevent Lear from being turned out of her own house, but later demonstrates the capability for great bravery.
EDGAR/POOR TOM Gloucester’s older, legitimate child. Edgar plays many different roles, starting out as a gullible fool easily tricked by their sibling Edmund, then assuming a disguise as a mad beggar to evade Lear’s soldiers, then carrying the impersonation further to aid Lear and Gloucester, and finally appearing as an armoured champion to avenge Edmund’s treason. Edgar’s propensity for disguises and impersonations makes them a mercurial character.
EDMUND Gloucester’s younger, illegitimate child. Edmund resents the character’s status as a bastard and schemes to usurp Gloucester’s title and possessions from Edgar. This is a formidable character, succeeding in almost all of the schemes and wreaking destruction upon virtually all the other characters.
OSWALD The steward, or chief servant, in Goneril’s house. Oswald obeys their mistress’s commands and helps her in her conspiracies.
FOOL Lear’s jester, who uses double-talk and seemingly frivolous songs to give Lear important advice.
Plus soldiers, courtiers, servants, messengers, doctor, herald and other parts to be cast from the ensemble.
Any questions please email the director, Bex.