William Shakespeare’s King Lear, written in 1605, is a tragedy about the nature of rulership and the abuse of power whose themes resonate as poignantly today as when King James I reigned.
What happens to a country lead by an aging narcissist demanding praise from all who serve him? Does such praise disease the King? Who is the King when the power defines him ends? What are the ravages of hate, greed, lust, and pride when man-and-womenkind conspire to rise? And what remains when the fallen King succumbs to madness?
And in the end, what of love?
In Shakespearean England, the theatre was a vehicle to explore such questions wherein the populace could express opinions and critiques on an allegorical king without fear of reprimand. Likewise, theatre today carries on this tradition as a forum for public critique on our politics and values.
This production of King Lear plays out in a pseudo-modern, sharp, dark, austere, and luxe world. The palette is primarily monochromatic greys with blue grey tones defining those characters who challenge the ruling powers. My design emulates aspects of our reality, incorporating a blend of high fashion and militarized aesthetics. I represent thematic interplay of masculinity and femininity through crisp angular lines and silhouettes on the ruling regime versus looser, unstructured, and draping forms on those who challenge corruption, and on the lower classes.
While my design does not explicitly model any specific ruler or country, its aesthetic references underscore how relevant these themes remain—asking an audience to examine the parallels within our world today and supporting Shakespeare’s moralization of corruption and power.