Shakespeare for Everyone


by William Shakespeare• directed by Vicki Hirsch
assisted by Shoshona Willow Currier
• September 23,  2001
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King Lear (1605) is an anguished, storm-ridden journey of the mind and spirit.  With many of the most searching passages in Shakespeare, it still is an acquired taste  for some theatre-goers.   Among the sources for Shakespeare's tragedy of  "unaccommodated man" (III.4) is  "Historia Regum Britanniae," written by Geoffrey of Monmouth, the first known publication of this story.  Afterwards, other versions appeared in "The First Part of the Mirror for Magistrates," published by John Higgins in 1574, and in "Chronicles," published by Holinshed in 1587. A play entitled "The True Chronicle History of King Lear" was written in 1594 and published in 1605; although based on the same story, it is marked by strong Christian piety and ends quite differently, for Cordelia is spared and King Lear is reinstated to the throne.

King Lear is a brutal play, filled with human cruelty and  seemingly meaningless violence. It asks whether the world is fundamentally indifferent or even hostile to humankind.   “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; / They kill us for their sport,” Gloucester muses, realizing it foolish for humankind to assume that the natural world works in parallel with socially or morally convenient notions of justice (IV.i.37–38).  Edgar, on the other hand, insists that “the gods are just,” believing that individuals get what they deserve (V.iii.169).  But, in the end, we are left with only a terrifying uncertainty—although the wicked die, the good die along with them, culminating in the awful image of Lear cradling Cordelia’s body in his arms. There is goodness in the world of the play, but there is also madness and death, and it is difficult to tell which triumphs in the end.




Blanche Cholet*


Deborah Wright Houston*


Joe Hamel


Roger Stude


Renée Bucciarelli*


Jon Fordham


Rebekka Grella

King of France

Roger Stude


Joe Ryan


Carrie Edel


Mark Wellen*


Marlene Hodgdon*


Joe Primavera


Shoshona Willow Currier

Old Man

Joe Ryan


Andrew Stewart-Jones

Edmund Eddie Boroevich


Shoshona Willow Currier

1st Servant

Shoshona Willow Currier


Joe Ryan


Carrie Edel

*Member of Actors' Equity Association (AEA)

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