An aging king decides to divide his kingdom amongst his three daughters – but his succession requirements are unorthodox to say the least. One of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies is also one of his most unstable texts. Which version of the three substantially different early modern texts of King Lear is the “right” one? We’ll never know for sure, but the ASC Theatre Camp is proud to add another entry of our own into the variegated production history of this monumental play.

King Lear

by William Shakespeare

Directed by: Patrick Aaron Harris

Assistant Directors: Jessica Andrews, Jack Sharkey
Production Intern: Chase O’Neill

From the Director:

As aging parents begin to leave certain responsibilities to their children, there is also an inversion in the caregiver role between the generations—the natural outcome of the elderly reverting to “second childishness,” as Jacques puts it. We’re likely all familiar with those middle-aged adults who care for parents that can no longer reliably care for themselves. It’s not always a task that we’re prepared totake on. It’s never easy. It’s sometimes thankless. But it’s what we do—some would argue it’s what we’re obligated to do—for family. But what happens when the young rebel against those expectations and place their individual desires above the needs of their elders?

 

That is the question we face in performing King Lear. The relationships between Lear and his daughters, between Gloucester and his sons, discomfort our notions of what nuclear families are supposed to be. Yes, it’s a play about war, about the corrupting influence of power, about loyalty and infidelity. But the truly tragic thing is that the tender moments—the moments of reconciliation, the moments of forgiveness, the moments of redemption, they don’t come soon enough to save anyone.

 

The wonderful and difficult thing about King Lear is that it forces us to face our own innocence and mortality. The play shows in grim detail that we are none of us prepared for what it means to age, to be old, or to die. And it compels us to wonder: when the time comes, will we face those challengeswith our families and friends at our sides? Or will we, like Lear, be cast out into the storm?

(Click here to read the full [folio] text.)

(Click here to read the full [first quarto] text.)

(Click here to read the full [second quarto] text.)

(Confusion arising from or complaints relating to the textual instability of King Lear should be taken up with the Official Department of Textual Complaints)