King Lear is regarded as the pinnacle of theatre: difficult to climb but from there you can look down into the abyss. It is a royal drama which starts with the old king announcing a rhetorical competition between his three daughters, disinheriting the youngest, dividing his kingdom in two and giving up power. But instead of a peaceful retirement, an odyssey awaits Lear during which he will lose all the certainties he had before. His faithful follower, the Duke of Gloucester shares a similar fate, falling for a trap set by his illegitimate son Edmund, renouncing his legitimate son Edgar and suffering his own downfall. King Lear is a play about war: between generations, between siblings, between armies. It is a play without mothers, where rich men turn into beggars and a blind man is able to see. It is an endgame in which an old order collapses and values are turned to ruins between which a storm rages that may be followed by nothing at all. Or something new. And it is a clown-like language game, in which language is taken apart along with the world, with four fools at its centre – “one professional, one inclined that way and two others tortured into it.” (Camus).

The meaning of life, suffering and anger

Ecce Homo. Behold mankind as he is. With all his violence, power and destruction – but also with his enormous strength to forgive his fellow men. And to save them from excessive self-hate.

Johan Simons sees his task as a director to bring these major themes back to human dimensions: “At the heart of King Lear Shakespeare describes a powerful storm that is both real and something raging within the King’s mind. For me what is special is that Lear surrenders to the storm willingly but at the last moment he uses the storm’s power to steer his life in a different direction. Death – or to be more precise: the manner in which you die – is an important topic. I myself have most of my life behind me and I wonder whether in the hour of my death I will be able to transcend my fear. Lear’s ability to die happily – despite all his misery and the fact that he is holding his daughter’s dead body in his arms – is what I find particularly moving in this drama.”

New translation by Miroslava Svolikova

Schauspielhaus Bochum  has commissioned a new translation of Shakespeare’s drama by the Austrian writer and dramatist Miroslava Svolikova. She was born in 1986 and is an artist who is able to move subtly and with good humour between different languages and disciplines whose plays have already won numerous awards.

The title role will be played by Pierre Bokma, who was previously seen as Jehuda Ibn Esra in Johan Simons’ opening production Die Jüdin von Toledo. Bokma’s acting achievements have been recognised with the leading theatre prizes in the Netherlands and the International Emmy Award.

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Sat, 25.04.
Fri, 08.05.
Wed, 13.05.
  • Premiere: 25.04.2020