Production Announcement

Following a London West End run in December 2007, a sold-out limited engagement at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in March 2008, and a subsequent eight-week run on Broadway, director Rupert Goold’s gripping stage production of Macbeth—starring Patrick Stewart in a triumphant, Tony-nominated performance—will be filmed for television in a co-production agreement between WNET.ORG and […]

Full Text Scene Link Directory

This full text version of King Lear is divided into 40 short scenes or scene segments. Each segment includes the corresponding clip from the Ian McKellen film. Any scene or segment may be linked from the table below. Segment Description Notation How this edition of King Lear represents annotations, stage directions, etc. Roles List of […]

Act IV Scene 3

Kent encounters the knight or gentleman to whom he entrusted messages in Act III, who discloses that the King of France has returned to France to cure some imperfection in the state, leaving his army in the hands of the Marshal of France (about whom we never hear again). He also confirms that Cordelia had […]

Act I

ACT I Shakespeare’s four most famous tragedies each have radically different dramatic structures compared to the others. Othello, perhaps the most perfectly structured of the group, or any group, goes together like a jeweler’s watch, each microscopic part building to the one climatic moment when Othello makes the mortal decision. Hamlet can be said to […]

King Lear, Starring Ian McKellen

The Play in Summary

The Two Texts of King Lear–The Quarto of 1608 and the Folio of 1623 An aging King Lear decides to abdicate and divide his kingdom among his three daughters.  He seeks a kind of oath of love before doing so, with which Goneril and Regan falsely comply.  Feeling that any statement of “most love” would […]

Ways Of Seeing

Painting of Olivier as Lear By Chuck Rose at “Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.” (Edgar) At the end of King Lear Edgar asks the audience to “speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.”  This is a call to both speak and to do so honestly.  We […]

Approaching the Play

King Lear gives us a grim story through startling poetry.  But it tells us neither how we must feel about it or how we must think about it.  If anything, its closing moments of quiet hysteria deny just that power to the play itself.  Edgar says, “the weight of these sad times we must obey,” […]

Print Editions

As with most of Shakespeare’s famous plays, King Lear may be found each year in many individual print editions.  At least twenty such editions were in print for King Lear as of Spring of 2009.  Each attempts to realize some distinction relative to the others.  However, it seems useful to separate them into three broad […]

Ian McKellen Film

Ian McKellen has been praised as the Olivier of our age.  But for the many Shakespearean roles he has taken on stage, we only have three previous Shakespearean plays with him in film—Macbeth with Judi Dench (1979), Othello in which he plays Iago (1990), and Richard III (1995).  He will be 70 in May; this […]