Digesting Lear on a Sunday Morning

First, let me send a shout out to Eliana Segovia on her first full week in the world!  Can’t wait for her to be greeting me with an “Annie B” like her mom and  the rest of my nieces and nephews.


Okay, now to Lear!  First, I had a great partner for this adventure. Tara, loves Lear, probably more than I do and Tuvia was thrilled to be left home.  Shakespeare just doesn’t give him enough time to catch the words and digest them and he just can’t buy my grab what you can approach.  Okay… we were off on a perfect day to be outside, but Shakespeare lovers just don’t care about weather.  Inside we walked with Lear through his early and rash retirement notice and the famous storm where he has to confront his demons and then the mounting chaos and death before ordered is restored.

This production was powerful in the brand new space for the Theater for a New Audience a company that has been living a gypsy life for year.  Now they have an amazing home.  What a space for a director!  Oh well…

I LOVE SHAKESPEARE!  I was lucky to have a Canadian-born mom who claimed him as one of her own, given Canada’s close ties with the Motherland and I give her all the credit that she hooked me when I was susceptible to everything MOM.  We began together with Richard the Third, premiering  TV  in 1956, for 5 1/2 hours starring Laurence Olivier, who made it almost easy to follow the plot without understanding the words as a 6 year old.

It wasn’t until  college as a Senior, when I finally  I took on Shakespeare with  Edward Chalfant, the great and terrible. With his Socratic approach to the Bard, I came to love the language even more than the plot lines.  We didn’t get to Lear that semester but I did get inside  MacBeth, Romeo and Juliet and my favorite- A Winter’s Tale.

When I began teaching some of the usual canon: Othello, Romeo and Juliet, and Julius Caesar, I had no fear but it wasn’t until I followed my friend James, a high school director friend at the Spence School in the City, and took on the Bard where he was meant to be on stage, did I begin the crack him open for kids.  Once I was really inside Midsummer, let the fun begin and  back in my classroom we were  also up and out of our seats- Shakespeare in motion!!!! Much Ado, 12th Night, Romeo and Juliet.  Anything I could justify.   I was never happier!

BUT Lear was never a play that I considered for high school consumption. No kids in the audience yesterday.  Of course I remember my first time with Lear.  My mom and I saw the great Morris Carnovsky at Stratford, Conn.  Although, I did wonder if his slurred speech and weaving around the stage was from something other than an acting choice.  My mom agreed.

Watching with Tara yesterday, I was glad to be back in this brand new space with a bare set that showcased many powerful performances and made great use of light and sound  but I guess (spoiler alert) I am not happy about the on-stage eye plucking of Gloster or finally, the  death of Cordelia. Just a few tweaks so we could leave the theater after 3+ hours with some sunshine.  I know, I know…  I’m being too romantic, but just one less casualty would make us feel better, don’t you think?

Thanks to my great buddy, Tara Smith for making the journey into the storm with me so I can think William once again.

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"writing is the painting of the voice" -Voltaire-

Tammy L. Breitweiser

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