Excursion to see The Tragedy of King Lear (Royal Shakespeare Company) at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)
Will meet at WHC at 11:30 AM
Student Responses to The Tragedy of King Lear
“Visiting a live performance, such as King Lear at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, reaffirms the enduring influence and relevancy of Shakespeare’s texts. Seen in person, the plays have a renewed emotional impact, as actors and actresses inhabit the words and expressions forged centuries ago. We may rarely laugh or cry aloud while reading Lear, but the collective and immediate experience of an audience member brings us to feel the pathos rather than only rationally understand it. At the same time, such performances remind us of the endless potential for interpretation and re-interpretation, which creates a Shakespearean tradition threading from the Elizabethan age to our own. Every age reimagines these works, and so we, too, should participate in this project of the unfolding present. In short, Shakespeare was intended to be experienced in time and place, and I thank you for extending this experience.”
“Lear was wonderful. No matter how many times you’re told, you always forget, when you’re reading Shakespeare’s texts, that the page isn’t their native format. That’s just because his language is so vivid that it can do a lot of the work on its own. But of course, of course, seeing the plays live gives them about eight zillion more dimensions. Then they exist in space and time and – best of all – take on a social character, because then you can discuss them in all their dimensions with other witnesses. I’m glad and grateful to have been witness to this!”
“The excursion to LEAR was not just an incredible opportunity to see a world-class performance, but also a chance to share the intimate experience of theater with fellow students. Quite apart from the phenomenal performance, I thoroughly enjoyed our pre- and post-show conversations. Listening to Professor Roach speak about LEAR as we cruised down the I-91 was a real treat—one I will always remember.”
“I really enjoyed the trip to King Lear on Sunday, though I didn’t see you at the end. Seeing King Lear performed was an entirely different experience from reading it on the page, and one I’m very grateful to have had. In reading the play it was easiest to notice which characters were speaking, but in watching it it quickly became much more significant and noticeable which characters were on the scene but keeping silent. This added a really fascinating level to the play that I hadn’t considered before. It was also fabulous watching the choices the production made in interpreting the play–the acting, costumes, blocking, and sets were amazing and added yet another layer of art and intention. It was wonderful to see the play, but it was even more wonderful to be able to see it with other Directed Studies students and students in the Elizabethan Club. Everyone on the trip was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about King Lear, which lead to a fabulous conversation on the bus ride back about the choices made in the portrayal of Cordelia and the Fool, as well as set choices. This trip is one I will remember as a foundational part of my DS experience, and I very much hope Directed Studies and the Elizabethan Club continue to plan events like this!”
“Hello Directed Studies and the Elizabethan Club! Thank you so much for organizing our trip to King Lear at BAM. I am in a class called Shakespeare’s Major Tragedies this semester, and our trip fell at the end of our three weeks devoted to Lear. We spent our final class talking about the play’s concern with class and inequality. Though there are nods to Lear’s failure to recognize the poverty in England (in his lines like, “I have taken too little care of this”), this production made that suffering central to the play. We saw men groping servants in the castle and beggars covering the stage when Lear goes into wild. I also loved how much pomp there was in Lear’s entrance, because it made his fall from “every inch a king” to “nothingness” all the more dramatic.
Sir Antony Sher’s performance was beautiful. Though he captured Lear’s ignorance and self concern in the first couple of scenes, he ultimately played Lear as a victim – a poor old man whose daughters abandoned him at the end of his life. My favorite moment was when Lear, in a broken, betrayed, sorrowful voice says to Goneril and Regan, “I gave you all.” The delivery of that line reminded me of Hamlet’s to Ophelia, “I never gave you aught.” Hamlet is young, defensive, and in denial about his feelings. He tries to prove to Ophelia that she does not matter to him. Here, Lear is revealing himself, making himself vulnerable and therefore letting the betrayal crush him all the more.
Thank you again! It was so great to see the play after reading it, and I also just had so much fun meeting the other kids on the trip.”