Dramaturgical Resources: King Lear

Over the course of the season, our Assistant Directors and student Dramaturgs will be compiling dramaturgical resources relating to each production as it develops. Below are some links to websites which relate to the history of the play, the biography of the playwright, and sites that contextualize and, we hope, shed light on the directorial approach to the dramatic material.

We hope you find these resources of interest.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

An enormous amount of online material relating to King Lear exists on the web. Here are a few sites that we hope might be of interest.

King Lear is based on an earlier play, King Leir. About.com gives a good introduction to this original version (you can even read the earlier play) and provides useful background on Shakerspeare's sources and the text of Lear itself.

And excellent resource for Shakespeare in general on the web, is the Internet Shakespeare Editions site, run by the University of Victoria in Canada, Their King Lear pages are comprehensive. Don't miss the links to pictures of the first pages of Lear in the folio!

The theme of sight, and other thematic elements of the text are discussed in this useful essay.

A very brief summary of the cultural and historical context within which the play was written can be found here.

Eclipses and other inversions of the natural order feature prominently in King Lear. Superstitions have long been associated with eclipses, as detailed in these webpages:
...European Space Agency
...Eclipses in History
...10 Lunar Eclipse Facts from space.com

And of course, there's always the good old internet standby, Wikipedia.

The Royal Shakespeare Company's website has an interesting article or two on "reinventing" King Lear. It deals particularly with Jane Smiley's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel adaptation of Lear, A Thousand Acres.

The RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) site also has production pictures from past RSC Lears. The server is quite slow to respond, but the cross section of images is worth the wait.

Here's a recent New York Times review of the play.

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