Filmed at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester during its sell-out critically acclaimed run, this epic production of King Lear will be available for free “on demand” as part of the Shakespeare Lives digital festival.
Available from July 11 for three months, the stage-to-screen film of the Royal Exchange Theatre and Talawa Theatre company’s epic production offers audiences the chance to witness an epic version of the Bard’s great play. Playing to packed houses and enjoying critical acclaim, this latest production of King Lear stars Don Warrington whose depiction of the “Everest of roles”, said the Daily Telegraph, ascended “the cliff face with magnificent authority”.
From July to September 2016, King Lear: The Film, which was described by the Guardian “as close to definitive as can be”, will be available on BBC iPlayer as part of the corporation’s plans to provide a richer service to audiences and help foster growth in the creative industries. It will also be available as part of the Shakespeare Lives digital festival at bbc.co.uk/shakespearelives.
The original stage production was directed by Michael Buffong (A Raisin in the Sun, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl, All My Sons) and was a co-production between Talawa Theatre Company and the Royal Exchange Theatre in association with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.
King Lear is a brutal portrait of a man unraveling – pitted against his daughters, against nature and against the universe itself. In an ancient Britain bound by loyalty to the clan and the power of the sword, King Lear decides to give up his crown. As he divides the kingdom between his daughters, family ties disintegrate, order disappears and the land slides into chaos.
Don Warrington’s portrayal of the title role resonates particularly as the UK’s awareness of the impact of Dementia on family bonds and decision-making grows. Meanwhile the casting of King Lear’s family as black reminds us that the presence and influence of black people is potentially un-documented in our ancient history. The casting also addresses the debate about the lack of availability of roles for black actors in the UK.
Award-winning actor Warrington has been highly praised for his brutal and powerful portrayal of King Lear. He can be currently seen in the BBC’s hugely successful series Death In Paradise. His career spans television (Waking the Dead, Casualty, Rising Damp), radio and the stage (All My Sons, Driving Miss Daisy, The Mysteries) and he has had a long-standing relationship with Talawa Theatre Company both on and off the stage.
The recording brings the audience even closer to the family feuds, elemental attacks and epic battles of King Lear, and serves to extend the audience of an already dynamic and widely attended production. Supporting Warrington are Alfred Enoch as Edgar, Miltos Yerolemou as the Fool and Philip Whitchurch as the Earl of Gloucester.
The outstanding cast also includes Fraser Ayres, Rakie Ayola, Rhys Bevan, Norman Bowman, Thomas Coombes, Sam Glen, Wil Johnson, Debbie Korley, Pepter Lunkuse, Miles Mitchell, Mark Springer and Sarah Quist.
Michael Buffong, Artistic Director at Talawa Theatre Company and Director of King Lear says, “We are always seeking to push ourselves as artists, always trying to go beyond what is expected. The staged version of King Lear was hugely successful and received passionate responses form audiences and critics alike. King Lear: The Film represents an exciting opportunity to bring this epic story of family conflict against a backdrop of a father’s deteriorating mental health to a wider audience. It’s a first for Talawa, and we’re excited to be working with our partners in delivering King Lear: The Film.”
King Lear: The Film is funded by digital commissioning body The Space with the aim of bringing the impressive production to a wider and more diverse digital and cinema audiences. It’s supported by the British Council as part of their major Shakespeare Lives programme, with the aim of showcasing the best of British contemporary arts to an international audience.
Fiona Morris, Chief Executive and Creative Director of The Space said: “I’m delighted that we’re working alongside Talawa Theatre Company, Manchester Royal Exchange and the British Council to take this acclaimed production of King Lear to an even wider audience. By harnessing a range of different digital platforms, we will ensure that the audiences for this powerful production continues to grow – fulfilling The Space’s ambition to bring great art to more people.”
The film has been produced as part of Talawa’s 30th anniversary and the Royal Exchange’s 40th anniversary celebrations and demonstrates the Royal Exchange Theatre’s commitment to capturing productions digitally and reaching wider audiences across the UK and internationally.
Over the next twelve months the film will be available to stream via a range of platforms, soon to be announced, including cinema and digital.
For more information on King Lear: The Film and its distribution, please visit: http://www.shakespearelives.org