Tuesday, 15 May 2012

King Lear

Who has not heard in the English speaking world of the play King Lear by William Shakespeare. Written between 1603-06, a powerful tragedy of a King who gives away foolishly to two of his three daughters his kingdom, falling victim to their flattery. Thinking that he can retire and they being loving will take care of him.

The National Arts Centre English Theatre under the direction of Peter Hinton presented an all Aboriginal cast of players and set the play in 17th Century Canada. The set and costumes was the great forests of Canada and the actors wore the traditional costumes of Natives in 1660. I had forgotten that Natives when speaking English have a natural soft pronunciation and a slight accent. We were plunged into a very different reality, no longer England or Europe but Canada and North America, when the French, Natives and the English fought for control political, economic and military. The decor, sound of native drums, war cries, was quite beautiful and I really enjoyed the play, which is saying a lot given that I do not usually like Shakespeare. Before the start of the play, in the Foyer of the NAC, a large group of Natives who were supporting cast of this production did some chanting with drums, the echo throughout the theatre was impressive. I think what I found the most seductive was the introduction of this Canadian element which spoke to the audience. It brought me back to the time of my ancestors who arrived in 1660 in Quebec City on a French Royal troop ship, suddenly it felt more personal.

August Schellenberg was Lear, Monique Mojica as Goneril, Tantoo Cardinal as Regan, Jani Lauzon as Cordelia, Billy Merasty as Gloucester, Lorne Cardinal as Burgundy, Craig Lauzon as Kent, Jeremy Proulx as King of France.

The NAC describes this presentation of King Lear as; A play has big as Canada, resonating with our own history.


  1. I've never been big on Shakespeare..but I will never forget seeing Richard Burton do Hamlet..it was in 1964 and it was shown all across the country at the same time on Sept.23..reason why I remember the date, was it was my due date for my first child..
    But Richard Burton was amaazing.