Staging King Lear

In this task, students conduct research into a staged production of King Lear. If the class has viewed a stage or film production of the play, the task can be adapted into a reflection on that production. This task encourages students to consider how the stage and set design influences meaning, and how status, tone, and relationships are conveyed not just by the words, but also by their performance.

Individual task: 

In 2010, Bell Shakespeare staged a production of King Lear, directed by Marion Potts. Take a look at the production stills in the Lear On Stage section of the Shakespeare Hub. Consider the design of the costumes, makeup, and set.

How would you describe the design? Is it:

  • Realistic?  
  • Natural? 
  • Symbolic?  
  • Metaphoric?

What mood or atmosphere does the design set? What elements contribute to this mood? 

Consider the costumes:

  • How do the costumes show characters’ status? 
  • How do the costumes reflect the characters’ state of mind? 

Choose one image and consider how the characters are positioned on stage (this is also referred to as ‘blocking’).

  • Can you identify who each of the characters are according to how they are placed on the stage?
  • Can you tell which scene is being performed, based on who is on stage and what they are doing?
  • How does the characters’ positioning affect their status?
  • Who do you think has the most power in this scene/image? Why?