King Lear - Week 3

Week 3: Divide and Conquer?

“Know that we have divided
In three our kingdom: and 'tis our fast intent
To shake all cares and business from our age...”

What is becoming apparent is the company spirit: evolving from each week, informing the beginning of a new week as well as the work.

I believe, as most directors do, that old work can give a context to new work or in this circumstance inform a new scene and vice-versa; scene informs scene.

So, Michael decides to keep working through the acts and re-work old ones.

“I have no way, and therefore want no eyes; 
I stumbled when I saw.”

The importance of re-visiting scenes becomes more relevant as you make discoveries. The story needs to be updated, and as we move through the week we also become updated; in this case it’s voice with Jeannette. The pronunciation of a word to fit the pentameter - the stressing of a particular syllable or word can drive a differing intention which leads to a different outcome, which then changes a performance and then a scene and then the story or characters journey… Ok I’m exaggerating a bit, but you see the potential of a ripple? 

The other discoveries being made throughout the week are within the combat sequences, which Kevin and Michael direct. Questions and challenges to an idea come thick and fast with the excitement of holding props and actually using them.

‘What if my character starts the combat without a sword?’

‘Well it shows their unique skill.’

‘Then what does it say about my character? We should be on the same level.’

Now these are all valid points. What might be a small detail suddenly has huge consequences, but like always we overcome them. Something brutal but stylised creates an impressive moment in our storytelling: it also means revisiting “that” scene (that informs another scene).

“Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter 
fool and a sweet fool?” –

Mid-way through the week with all these new additions, we run Acts 1 and 2 to determine how far we’ve come and what needs to be addressed. Coral collaborates with the actors on a new action scene; updates all with posture and monitors the movement of each character throughout the run.

Getting a feel for the shape and structure of the piece has its significance. Once you have an idea of what scenes to tidy up, you also have the benefit of seeing how it all works and looks, if it needs to trimmed or if we can afford more time on something else. 

Everyone feels great that we we’re able to get through it quite smoothly … but at the end of this week there’s a note of caution.   Why? Because this is week 3 and although we’ve accomplished a lot, there’s still a lot for us to do.

“Many a true word hath been spoken in jest.” 

A Royal Exchange Theatre and Talawa Theatre Company co-production in association with Birmingham Repertory Theatre


1 April – 7 May Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

Audio-described performance: Saturday 30 April, 1.30pm
BSL performance: Wednesday 4 May, 7.00pm. Interpreter Jan Guest
Captioned performance: Friday 29 April, 7.00pm

19 May – 28 May Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Captioned Performance: Saturday 28 May, 2.00pm
BSL Interpreted Performance: Friday 27 May 7.30pm. Interpreter Mary Connell

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