Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

KING LEAR: A Kitchen Table Meditation by Edward Petherbridge

In the summer of 2007, Edward Petherbridge travelled to New Zealand to play King Lear on stage, but fell ill after the first rehearsal.  The role had to be recast and the world therefore still awaits his Lear . . .

In the meantime, we can offer a tiny but tantalizing glimpse of what might have been in is this multi-media presentation, recorded exclusively for our inaugural “Shakespeare Week”.  (With apologies to everyone who still has a  dial-up connection.)


Postscript from EP –  17.11.10:
Whilst filming in Budapest recently, I photographed this statue.


The nymph trying to lay a laurel wreath on the hero’s head strikes me as how Lear sees himself in the first scene. This aggrandizement of the dead hero is the kind of monument Lear is in search of while he’s living and the reason he initiates the rigged competition between his daughters: ‘Which of you shall we say doth love us most?’
© Edward Petherbridge. 2010.

8 comments on “KING LEAR: A Kitchen Table Meditation by Edward Petherbridge

  1. Christine
    November 18, 2010

    Oh, no! I need a friend request to see it!

  2. Moira
    November 18, 2010

    Oh. I thought everyone should be able to see it. Errm … Leave it with us a minute, Christine.

  3. Moira
    November 18, 2010

    I think it should be sorted very shortly. Try again in a couple of hours … I’ve sent a message asking for the video to be made “Public” …. Sorry!

  4. Moira
    November 18, 2010

    Okay. We think it’ll work now.

    Yrs in eternal techie numptiness,


  5. Moira
    November 18, 2010

    Is it okay now? Someone? Anyone?

  6. Christine
    November 19, 2010

    It’s fine and quite lovely. As we’ve been reminded this week Shakespeare has so much to say about the human condition. He speaks to us about different emotions and different stages of life. It is a pleasure to listen to Edward Petherbridge, who has obviously given Lear and his family a lot of thought over the years, talk about the play in contemporary terms (family disfunction, etc) and to equate the lessons that Lear learns to those that parents (such as myself) ought to internalize a whole lot sooner than we do. And his pictures of Lear in the rain are amazing. A pity we don’t run across such great artistic accidents more often!

  7. Nikki
    November 19, 2010

    I didn’t have a chance to watch this yesterday, so I didn’t know there was a problem. What a marvellous video!

    I’ve only read King Lear once, when I was at uni (and in that particular class I decided to write my essay on The Taming of the Shrew instead) so I’m not that familiar with it. I have the Ian McKellan version on DVD, but haven’t watched it yet. But this video makes me want to go straight back to King Lear and look at it again with his points in mind. The idea of Goneril and Regan as damaged hadn’t occurred to me, I thought they were just vile! And I loved the distinction of Lear as powerful rather than strong.

    A fantastic video, really enjoyed it! I only wish he had played Lear and that I could have seen it!

  8. Anita Kay
    September 10, 2022

    You, Sir, are astonishing. Thank you.

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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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