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Performing King Lear


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Table of Contents

Introduction 1 A Stage History 2 The First of the Moderns: John Gielgud, Randle Ayrton, Donald Wolfit, Laurence Olivier 3 At the Old Vic: William Devlin, John Gielgud 4 A Stratford Decade: John Gielgud, Michael Redgrave, Charles Laughton, Paul Scofield 5 For the Royal Shakespeare Company: Eric Porter, Donald Sinden, Michael Gambon 6 Around the Regions: Michael Hordern, Kathryn Hunter, Warren Mitchell, Pete Postlethwaite, Tim Pigott-Smith 7 At the Old Vic 2: Anthony Quayle, Eric Porter, Alan Howard 8 In the Round: Paul Shelley, Clive Swift, John Shrapnel 9 For the Royal Shakespeare Company 2: John Wood, Robert Stephens, Nigel Hawthorne 10 At the Globe: Julian Glover, David Calder, Joseph Marcell 11 On the Road: Timothy West, Anthony Quayle, Richard Briers 12 In Wales and Scotland: Nicol Williamson, David Hayman 13 Young Audiences, Young Players: Tony Church, Richard Haddon Haines, Timothy West, Nonso Anozie, Paul Copley 14 For the Royal Shakespeare Company 3: Corin Redgrave, Ian McKellen, Greg Hicks 15 In Smaller Spaces: Robert Demeger, Tom Wilkinson, Oliver Cotton, Oliver Ford Davies, Derek Jacobi, Jonathan Pryce 16 Transatlantic Sessions: Peter Ustinov, Christopher Plummer, Frank Langella, Michael Pennington 17 At the National: Anthony Hopkins, Brian Cox, Ian Holm, Simon Russell Beale Sources Further Reading Acknowledgements Index

Promotional Information

A unique exploration of the challenges and rewards of performing King Lear based on interviews with leading actors and directors.

About the Author

Jonathan Croall is a distinguished biographer and theatre historian. He is the author of twenty books, notably the acclaimed biographies John Gielgud: Matinee Idol to Movie Star (Methuen Drama) and Sybil Thorndike: A Star of Life.


[An] illuminating survey of modern approaches to the play in performance ... [providing] succinct accounts of nearly 50 performances over the last half-century. * The Guardian *
There are about 40 living actors who've tackled the role. Read this book, all ye students, and find out as much as you can about how it's been done in the recent past. * The Stage *
A superb survey by Jonathan Croall of modern Lears (from Gielgud onwards). * The Telegraph *
[Performing King Lear] contains detailed critical and personal accounts of nearly 60 productions, some successful, some not ... Croall draws on published memoirs and frequently rueful interviews conducted with actors and directors for this project, to give the reader some sense of what the Lear experience is like from within. Chapters devoted to the exertions of Gielgud, Charles Laughton and an ill-fated production starring Nigel Hawthorne make for compelling reading. * The Sydney Morning Herald *
[E]xemplary ... King Lear is for me, and for many Shakespeareans, the Mount Everest of the Shakespearean canon, and Jonathan Croall's excellently helpful and insightful book enables us to enjoy a broad perspective from the top of the summit. * Around the Globe *
[Croall] has staked a convincing claim to being Britain's leading theatrical commentator and biographer ... [and i]n this latest book, he makes a valuable addition to theatre history ... So much in this collection, on matters large and small, is stimulating to read that it seems invidious to single out any passages ... Croall should be encouraged - urged - to work his way through the other great roles in the Shakespearean canon. * Inside Story *
A fascinating book to anyone interested in theatre history or in the art of interpretation * Tim Pigott-Smith (King Lear, 2011) *
I'm enjoying dipping into this very readable and insightful book, and very much appreciated the overview of our production * Paul Copley (King Lear, 2012) *
By playing King Lear you join a conversation with colleagues alive and dead, male and female, and of surprisingly varied ages. Jonathan Croall's vividly researched book celebrates both our diversity and our common ground. * Michael Pennington (King Lear, 2014) *
I enjoyed reading about the various interpretations, including my own efforts - fascinating, and a lot to be learned. * Timothy West (King Lear, 1971, 1992 and 2002) *
Truly glorious. What a wonderful achievement. * Deborah Warner (director King Lear, 1985 and 1990) *
A genuinely fascinating read. The plurality of approaches is breathtaking * Tim Crouch (director, King Lear, 2012) *
A valuable resource in reconstructing the ways and means by which the play has been made to mean on the stage, and the fables of retrospection that the play has produced. * Shakespeare Quarterly *
This book will be of great interest to a wide range of people - students and academics interested in interpretations of this complex play, actors, directors and designers (the book is particularly strong on describing the many and various ways in which the play has been staged from a visual point of view), and of course anyone who loves the play itself. * Shiny New Books *

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