November 29, 2006

notes from meeting 27/11/06

Apologies – Cormac, Sam C, (Alex, Laura, Val – late)

Our discussion ranged quite widely, and I have tried to bring together what we discussed thematically, rather than chronologically.

- Sophie had seen the Richard Eyre film version with Ian Holm. It uses a similar kind of space to the Mead Gallery. Lear was ‘very mad’ in it.
We might like to try and watch some of this

- We tried to think about the story we want to tell:
- It’s about family – brothers, sisters and parents
- Themes: Betrayal, Blindness (both moral and actual), Madness, Family, (self)Destruction

- Binaries in the play:
- nature vs. the artificial
- nature is very heavily mentioned throughout the play. It is taken to mean personality ‘my nature’, as well as being ‘natural’ (i.e. loyal) to parents
- the sisters are described in unnatural terms as ‘unnatural hags’ and ‘serpents’
- however, the sisters become much worse under the influence of Edmund. Their evil is produced through jealousy over Edmund. This is a product of their environment, not of their nature (nature/nurture debate)
- Cordelia, on the other hand, stays true to her nature, no matter what. The sisters use artifice to get what they want out of Lear.

- Other binaries:
- real madness (Lear) vs. feigned madness (Edgar)
- Lear vs. Gloucester. The two old men. How do they differ? How are they similar? Gloucester has more backbone, respect and better judgement.

- Binaries could help structure our adaptation – we could put scenes next to each other to create deliberate mirroring effects – fathers with their children etc.

- Madness:
- the sisters claim it is the case in Lear from the start
- should Lear’s madness be funny? Does it make it more tragic if the audience find themselves laughing in an unsuitable place?
- We discussed whether madness in characters should be naturally occurring or deliberately evoked by means of drugs, for example.
- Gloucester is certainly ‘poisoned’ by Edmund
- Lear – bi-polar syndrome might work quite effectively to dramatise his switches from sanity to madness
- ‘Real’/natural madness – Edmund or Gloucester
- Madness from artificial means – Lear of Edmund
- We wondered if we could incorporate a mad woman to mirror this – one of the sisters?
- Edmund – we would feel more comfortable if he had a reason for his hatred, otherwise he’s just evil. If he were diseased, so it was a kind of madness or psychosis, then that would help explain his obsession with legitimacy.

- The beginning – characters are introduced by others’ descriptions – this could be useful for introducing character in our adaptation.

- Matters of perspective – Different perspectives on ‘truth’ (ties in with madness and how mad people see the world differently). Lear’s knights – are they riotous? If they are then Goneril is justified in throwing them out. We could potentially have videos of the knights from Goneril’s and Lear’s perspectives, to see how different they would be.

- A useful modern equivalent to the powerlessness of the old men might be an old peoples’ home – the trend of children to dump their old parents there. Society’s trend of discarding unnecessary people
- But there is a fear of Lear in the other characters – they turn on him before he can turn on them. Kent’s banishment scares the sisters
- Lear – quite child-like with his lack of sound judgement
- Links to the relationship between old age and childhood – reverting back to child-like qualities

- The last line of the play:
- evokes a post-modern sensibility that everything has been done before. A sense of disillusionment. Everything has been tried before and has failed. The nothing changes. need to find an easy definition of post-modernism!
- in terms of who should speak the line, we felt it would be suitable if it came from an injured party, therefore Edgar.
- the fact that both Kent and Edgar are alive at the end speaks of hope.

- Val – researched Edward Bond’s ‘Lear’. Uses extreme violence and torture. Modern society’s self-destructive streak. Brings full circle the idea of corruption.

- We need to decide what our final scene will be. Where should the play end? It does not have to be at ‘the end’, it could be a scene from anywhere in the play.
- for example, if we reversed many of the key scenes it would change the perspective of the audience and would seem much more, perhaps, that Lear had brought about his own demise. It would be more about self-destruction than anything else.
- Self-destruction – Lear, the sisters and Edmund are all on that path.
- We need to check whether anyone realises their destruction was their fault (the tragic ‘self-realisation’)

- we need to decide who our Lear is.
- is he egotistical? Self-pitying? An old fool? Bad tempered and demanding? Powerful? Selfish? Morally blind? Or a pitiful, sad old man (some of the words we found to describe him)

November 15, 2006

Times for meetings

Dear all,

Here are the times that we can all make each week. Please let me know if any are wrong – I will also mail this out to everyone.

Monday 12-1
Tuesday 9-10, 5.30 – ?
Wednesday 5-?

Please let me know when people can work up to on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. It would be great if we could do 2 hours in one or both of these slots.

So, our next meeting will be next Monday 12-1 in the Arts Centre. Please bring along a copy of ‘King Lear’ and we will start our read-through. We can then confirm which of the other times we will meet that week to finish.

Don’t forget also to decide which areas you want to research. Please do this via e-mails to everyone so people can get into groups that can work together. There’s no point in having three people working individually on the same thing!

See you on Monday!


November 13, 2006

How this works

Hey all,

Just to let you know that you should all be able to create entries on this blog now. Please let me know if you can’t and I’ll investigate.


November 12, 2006


Welcome to the blog for the course Shakespeare: From Page to Stage to Page

You should all have editing priviledges now so feel free to compose entries.

I hope this will be a good way for us to share ideas, stay in touch and put up minutes from meetings and progress reports on our work.

let me know if there are any technical hitches.


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