A new approach to King Lear

5 December 2017, 18:30 - 20:00
Cambridge campus

Actors performing on a stage

It has been known since the 1930s that one of the two documented performances of King Lear within Shakespeare’s lifetime was by a touring group of Catholic recusant actors in Yorkshire during the winter of 1609-10.

Despite all the critical ink which has been spilled about the religious and philosophical meaning of King Lear, there has been relatively little attempt to understand what the play might have meant to an English Catholic audience in 1609-10.

Why did this group of travelling players think King Lear was an appropriate play to perform? In fact its picture of a British kingdom divided into clearly marked groups of good and evil characters, in which the good are brutally persecuted by the evil and denounced as traitors, offers a surprisingly good ‘fit’ with the perspective of English Catholics both before and after the Gunpowder Plot. Was their reading of King Lear part of the play’s ‘afterlife’ or part of its original meaning?

Event Details

5 December 2017, 18:30 - 20:00
Cambridge campus
LAB 027

No booking is required for this event.