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Adaptations of Ling Lear

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Introduction

A story of characters in conflict, a moving piece of social comment, but does it work as a play? What do you think of your prescribed text? King Lear has a story that will always be relevant to human nature because human nature does not change according to the era, and is able to simply be read as a story due to Shakespeare's skilful use of metaphors, and characterisation through specific imagery associated with each character, which would convey the themes implicit in the play to the reader. However, in order for the story to work as a play, it is important for a director to bring their own vision to the play and find unique ways of conveying this vision to the audience because a play is a visual text, and additional techniques must be incorporated into the play in order for it to work. Shakespeare is able to use language to position the audience to see certain characters in certain ways simply by using different types of imagery. ...read more.

Middle

the story to work as a play, as the context of the play and the context of his audience are basically the same. In the 2007 production at Parramatta Riverside Theatre directed by Mark Kilmurry, for example, there appears to be a particular emphasis placed on the family conflict, and less emphasis placed on aspects such as Lear's status as a king. The characters are dressed in modern clothes that show no hint of possible royalty, however Lear's royal status is vaguely alluded to as his suit is purple, the colour of royalty, This approach would make it more relevant to a contemporary Australian audience as royalty and the power that comes with it are themes that the audience would not be able to relate to as well as the themes of family conflict and betrayal, especially since Australia does not have a royal family. Another decision made by Kilmurry was to leave out the characters of Albany and Cornwall, the husbands of Goneril and Regan. This omission makes Goneril and Regan's competition for Edmond's affection seem less immoral, because in the original play Goneril is married to Albany and Regan pursues Edmund shortly after the death of her husband Cornwall. ...read more.

Conclusion

Unlike Kilmurry, however, Eyre's production also addresses the theme of power, especially within families, through the use of camera angles: low-angle shots of Lear are constantly used, particularly in the scene in which Goneril and Regan strip him of his retinue to emphasise the fact that he clearly has no power anymore. Eyre's use of framing emphasises this even further, as Goneril and Regan are standing on either side of Lear, towering over him, and Lear is in the middle, shorter than them. Eyre and Kilmurry both choose to focus more on themes that relate to their audiences, such as power and its effects on families. These themes would be much more relevant to a late twentieth/early twenty-first century audience than, for instance, nature controlling one's destiny because that is an idea that fits in with Shakespeare's context because it was a time of great superstition and belief in external forces. The decisions that the directors of the two productions both made to focus on particular themes that are relevant to a contemporary audience and using various techniques to convey them ensured that the story of King Lear did work as a play and a visual text. ...read more.

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