KING LEAR

directed by Janice L Blixt

Scenic Design by Angela Weber Miller

Lighting Design by Kelcie Nutile

Composition and Sound Design by Kate Hopgood

Costume Design by Darice Damata-Geiger

Properties Design by Adam Kruger

Fight Directed by David Blixt

Associate Fight Directed by Eric Eilersen

Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.

At the height of his power, his land at peace, King Lear of England abdicates his throne, dividing his power between his loyal daughters with the simple caveat that he be treated with the respect due a king. But without the mantle of kingly power, his deceitful offspring strip him of his honor, driving him into madness and the entire country into war. Lear’s blindness to the true nature of his children is mirrored by his loyal friend Gloucester’s destruction at the hands of his own treacherous illegitimate son. Considered by many to be the greatest of all Shakespeare’s plays, KING LEAR combines tragic family drama with epic storytelling, giving us the most heroic and the most malevolent characters in Western drama.

Set in Iron Age Britain (approximately 700 BCE), this King Lear pulls inspiration from the stories about "Leir, King of Britain" talked about by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his 12th century The History of the Kings of Britain. According to Monmouth, Leir solidified his power base in Britain and then abdicated to his daughters, Goneril & Regan, but then, when the daughters reneg on their vows to honor him, he flees to France to live with his daughter Cordelia. He is made a regent of France and lives with his favorite daughter until his death.  The Monmouth story is set around the same time as the founding of Rome - a time when several Celtic tribes controlled the lands than are now England - and so is our production.

We took inspiration from the architecture of the time, the MaiDun Hillfort (Maiden Castle) - in Dorset.  A fortified hilltop settlement built sometime between 800 and 600 BCE.  

The wattle-walls, the wooden henges, the fabric celtic decorations all serve as the inspiration for the world of our KING LEAR.

MaiDun Hillfort

Iron Age Dwelling

with Wooden Henge and wattle walls

Iron Age Celtic 

Decoration

Lear portal_edited-1_edited.jpg

King Lear's Holding   designed by Angela Weber Miller

Goneril's Holding / Gloucester's Holding / The Heath   designed by Angela Weber Miller

Through a combination of archeology and the writings of different historians - mostly Romans - we have a sense of the clothing styles of Iron Age Britain.  Men wore simple fitting trousers with tunics and cloaks and women wore layers of wool and linen.  Our costume designer, Darice Damata-Geiger leaned into the rustic look of the time and heightened the textures of the fabrics adding leather and fur and ornamentation inspired by brooches and torques of the time.

2019 MainStage Performances in Jackson, MI and Canton, MI

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