On Tuesday the fourth of December, we went to Le Prisme in Elancourt to see King Lear, a tragedy by William Shakespeare. Before the performance we met the stage director, Alain Fréchuret, and the translator of the play, Dorothée Zumstein. They explained the choices they had made in the translation of Shakespeare and his puns and in the direction of the actors.

January 2008

This tragedy is the story of a king, Lear, who feels too old and therefore decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. But first, he asks them to tell him how much they love him. The first two daughters lie and exaggerate, while Cordelia refuses to say more than ‘I love your majesty according to my bond, no more no less’. The King, furious, banishes Cordelia. Another plot develops at the same time, a story of betrayal between brothers. The themes of family bonds, truthfulness, betrayal, bravery, loyalty all mix up in this masterpiece.

This play was adapted in a very modern way and here are some comments by the pupils of the 2de 5: Costumes:
‘I preferred the beginning of the play because it was simple to understand, contrary to the end when they changed their period costumes for modern ones’ ‘The second part looked like the modern world, I didn’t like that’ ‘ The costumes gave me an impression of authenticity…the switch of costumes during the interlude shocked and destabilized me…it wasn’t a good idea and rendered the play complicated’

‘In my opinion the play was too funny to be a tragedy…the décor was strange: there was nothing, only a sandpit, so it was sometimes difficult to understand where the action was taking place’ ‘to show the outside world, they used plastic bags and litters’ ‘First when you realize there isn’t any setting you begin to think it will be boring, but it isn’t because you concentrate on the actors’ ‘The setting was just sand on the stage during the first part of the play and it forced spectators to be concentrated only on the actors. ‘Sometimes the actors sat in the public which allowed to bring the spectators and the actors together…. The stage was very simple, the floor was bare and we saw all the boards and the equipment because there was no separation between the stage and the wings(…)The light was important because it replaced the setting.’ ‘I enjoyed the play with the light, because some characters looked bigger whereas others became smaller: there was a funny game with shadows.’ ‘King Lear’s castle is symbolized by a sand castle which collapses in the first act…’

Characters and actors
‘My favourite character was the fool because he said clever and very funny things’ ‘The naked man was exaggerated because he stayed too long on stage and became ridiculous.’ Dominique Pinon interprets to perfection a touching fallen father, especially touched by the ingratitude of his own children.’ ‘There were lots of characters and sometimes it was difficult to understand who was who.’ ‘All the actors are incredible: Dominique Pinon is majestic in Lear, the actor who plays the effeminate manservant is excellent…’

‘The choice of the director to put a naked man was good but it was too long…’ ‘Edgar was naked during almost all the play. …I think it’s the cliché of the poor man. It wasn’t a good idea.’

‘The play was too long, for instance it took 20 minutes for someone to die.’ ‘I saw only one problem in this play: the duration… 3hours and a half is much too long!’ ‘The play was too long and some moments were difficult to understand.’

Likes and dislikes
‘I liked the play because it was very funny I laughed a lot…I think the public liked the play because no one booed’ ‘This play was very funny but it’s not normal at all because it’s a tragedy. There were special effects especially when they put the eye of a man out!’ ‘The plot is interesting but I didn’t like the adaptation… there was a naked man for a long time on stage and I think it didn’t bring interesting things for us….the play didn’t bring me anything and it was too long.’ ‘It was long, boring at the end and complicated, but the actors were fantastic and it was sometimes funny’