Updated: Jun 1
Every year, we give our own twist to a Shakespeare play and King Lear is no different. We will give you four characters, all with their different views of the world. We want to invite the audience to see the struggle of one specific character. Split into groups at the beginning, the character will tell you their backstory. You will experience the play differently, depending on whether your perspective has been influenced by King Lear, Goneril, Edgar or Edmund.
For us as the actors of these characters, these introduction monologues offer us more of the character we’re portraying. The idea that certain audience members know what’s most important to the characters, means that both character and actor can look into the audience for support and strength. Not one audience member knows the whole picture, but those who know our picture can be counted an ally, or even complicit.
This week we will be highlighting Ilse, who plays Goneril, oldest daughter of King Lear.
Here’s her perception on the point of view of Goneril:
“Our perspective is challenging this common interpretation: the Goneril that we stage is a far more multifaceted character. She is not just genuinely cruel and is not devoured by hatred for her father. We are looking inside the mind of a daughter who has suffered because her father had always favored his youngest daughter (Cordelia) over his two other children. Understandably, Goneril must have felt resentment and must have suppressed painful feelings while growing up.
This perspective makes Goneril a woman of flesh-and-blood; she is able to love. And yes, as all humans, she is imperfect, and makes the wrong choices.
On one occasion, with the group, we brainstormed on our perception of a post-apocalyptic world. I then had reminiscences of photographs that I had seen in the memorial museum in Hiroshima: how the first atomic bomb caused horror beyond human imagination. For me personally, this aftermath provides the dramatic backdrop to our play. And what’s more, contemporary resurrected Hiroshima has become a place of hope. Likewise, our play – despite the death and destruction – ends with a message of hope and triumph of the human spirit.
With our extended version of the play’s original title (with ‘a matter of perspective’), we want to emphasize that the truth is not absolute, neither in reality nor in an imaginary realm. In King Lear’s fictional world, the story is largely about characters. Without giving away too many details at this time, I can reveal that all the initial monologues complement the character’s development and will draw the spectators in. The end goal is that anyone can judge the events for themselves.”