King Lear

Lear’s Fool: I can tell why a snail has a house . . . why, to put his head in; not to give it away to his daughters, and leave his horns without a case. . . . .
Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.     — Act 1, Scene 5

King Lear is the third WILL Fall workshop featuring plays and players from Shakespeare’s canon. How does Lear, a character from Celtic Britain’s pagan past, speak to us today? Do the play’s terrifying scenes of war and torture parallel ours? Or is it the tale of a father who fatefully misjudges the children he wants to rely on in his retirement, that haunts us? Or Lear’s “madness,” the dysfunction, deterioration, and delirium accompanying his old age that we now see in others and fear for ourselves? This huge, mythic play has all of this and more.

A look into three modern performances on screen, with such actors as Paul Schofield, Laurence Olivier, and Ian McKellan, will reveal a wide range of interpretations for class discussion, in three, two-and-a-half-hour sessions.


Instructor: Gay Smith

Three Thursdays: 7–9:30 p.m.
October 11, 18, 25 | $110


Gay Smith
Gay Smith is professor of theater emerita at Wesleyan. She is the author of most recently published Lady MacBeth in America, From the Stage to the Whitehouse, and seminal books on George Sand’s theater career. She has worked as a dramaturge for more than30 years with the O’Neill National Playwrights’ Conference, DenverPerforming Arts Center, Padua Hills Playwrights in Los Angeles, and 7-Devils in McCall, Idaho. She is currently working on an anthology entitled The Rejane Cult: from Degas to Proust.