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Dear Mr Simon I am writing in reply to your advertisement for an actor to play the character of King Lear in your upcoming production.

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Introduction

Dear Mr Simon I am writing in reply to your advertisement for an actor to play the character of King Lear in your upcoming production. I have much acting experience and have appeared in many theatre and film performances over the last 40 years. I have previous experience in King Lear, as I starred as King Lear at the New York 'Shakespeare in the park' festival. This production required extreme emotional elements, which I believe I executed with sincerity. My "experienced" appearance closely adheres to Lear's in the play. My 72 years have not yet affected my acting ability, and I must say, it has permitted me to retain the stamina of a younger man. I have thought about what it is you want to see in your production of King Lear. I greatly admire Paul Schofield's performance in the Brook production of King Lear 1962. His portrayal of Lear was angry and unheroic. The audience had no sympathy for Lear in his rage. He was perceived as shamefully boorish when expressing his anger by up-turning tables and implements, and through this performance his madness in Act 3 was deserved. ...read more.

Middle

I believe that the more contrast provided, the greater impact the production will have on an audience. I have the capability to perform as such. Performance criticism of King Lear is the semiotics of theatre and how they are manipulated to give different meaning. The expression of phrases, costumes and gestures all contribute to the main idea shown through the play. The many productions of King Lear I have studied, in pursuit to become an actor mature enough in ability and age to play Lear successfully, have given me an open mind to the capabilities of the play. Lear's power transforms throughout the play. In Act 1 Lear is strong. When we see Cordelia challenge that power, "I cannot heave/my heart into my mouth." (1:1:91) all sense of absolute power is taken from him. In Act 3, Lear orders the storm, an uncontrollable force of nature, to destroy the Earth, the delusions of power become apparent. Throughout the play, Lear transforms from a responsible adult to some kind of childishness with the storm scene being the pivotal point between the two, allowing Lear to gain greater knowledge of himself and of the world around him. ...read more.

Conclusion

This criticism is one that shows the belief that political power, historical and social forces are the cause of tragedy. In 1965, Jan Kott, a Polish critic challenged earlier criticism and argued that history is the cause of tragedy, more so than fate or the gods. The Brook production of King Lear in 1962 was greatly influenced by Kott's argument that "All bonds...are broken. Social order...will crumble into dust." Cruelty is dominating, and redemption or affirmation is hopeless. "I am a man more sinned against than sinning." (3:2:58) "As flies to wanton boys are we to th'e gods;/they kill us for their sport." (Glouster 4:1:37) Charles Lamb, an early 19th century critic, said King Lear is "beyond all art", and I must agree, as King Lear is one of the most valued of all Shakespeare's plays, and has been read and received in many different cultural and historical contexts. Although Lamb was not correct in saying that "Lear is essentially impossible to be represented on a stage." I strongly believe, as an actor, that with the director's clear instruction as to the ideas he or she wish to make visible to the audience, King Lear is the most playable of all plays, and will continue to be replayed, and re-valued for centuries to come. ...read more.

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