King Lear is old and tired of ruling. He has decided to divide his kingdom between his three daughters. But the ageing monarch turns this division into a game, a test of their love: whoever loves him most will receive the most land. Twice it turns out well but then his youngest daughter refuses to play – true love is not a deal. Lear disowns and disinherits her immediately. In that moment, Lear’s drama unfolds – that of an old man who finds it so difficult to renounce his titles, property and power. By increasingly abandoning himself and stripping away his identity he will eventually arrive at who he is.

King Lear is perhaps the darkest of Shakespeare’s tragedies. It centres on questions that have always occupied mankind: the meaning of life, suffering, human anger. In King Lear Shakespeare plumbs the depths of suffering in harrowing fashion: individual suffering and the suffering of the world as a whole.

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.
  • Premiere: 25.04.2020