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King Lear With Sheep

London traffic, bladder control, and a runaway Cordelia challenge a mostly wool production of Shakespeare’s King Lear.

My friend Heather, a director, wants to stage a King Lear in London, and has asked me produce it. She’s been trying to put it on in Massachusetts without much luck as for reasons of hygiene theatre owners are turning her down. The nub of it is that the play stars one man and eight sheep. It is suggested that the US economy depends on beef, and perhaps finds sheep a little threatening.

Lambing season rolls around, to my cost. With it, a stream of Facebook messages from Heather announcing that she has found a warehouse in Lewisham for the performance. These get glummer as I don’t reply, and culminate in “I want a proscenium arch” with a crying emoji, and, as a postscript, the lone word “epidavros.”

I tentatively open her proposal, a 30-page PDF bedecked in 18th-century images of lambs of varying degrees of poignancy. We are, Heather writes, casting one man and eight sheep to question assumptions about the stage, picking up on the thoughts of playwrights such as Beckett. She says it’s an allegorical hate letter, ... Continue Reading

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Jul 23
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