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King Lear


Venue: Theatre

Dates: January 20-28, 2018

Duration: Approximate 200 mins (Intermission Included)


King Lear, one of Shakespeare’s “four great tragedies,” is based on an ancient British legend. Shakespeare, according to his depiction of the internal chaos of the royal family and Lear’s shifting fortunes, portrays the tale with incisive and profound language, the divisiveness and contention of humanity given power and desire. Yet as the tragedy takes its powerful form, it remains replete with a yearning for love and cries for mercy, thus lending a fierce idealistic fervor to the work. Lear's knowledge and stature are almost god-like, but in the course of successive misfortunes, the reverence for the god turns to scorn and abandonment, until the god and humanity are both shattered. Cordelia, the youngest daughter, having been heartlessly disowned, nevertheless becomes her father’s savior. King Lear is not only tragic in that Lear as king is devastated, but more importantly in that after all is said and done, even though his soul has been redeemed, his death remains inevitable, and that he has no possibility of resurrection. Penned by Shakespeare’s hand, this type of despair imbues the tragedy with a noble significance.

King Lear is NCPA’s third production of a Shakespearean play, after A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet, this time in cooperation with Mr. LI Liuyi’s Drama Estudio in Beijing. As a tribute to the master playwright, the NCPA (National Centre for the Performing Arts) has extended a special invitation to the script supervisor of the Royal Shakespeare Company to coach the actors, and selected Mr. YANG Shipeng’s rendering as the rehearsal script. German-born set designer, Michael Simon and Academy Award winner for Best Costume Design, Emi Wada combine talents to recreate The Bard’s cast of characters and ruined palace.

Additionally, the renowned theatre actor, PU Cunxi, gives a stark portrayal of Lear's departure from the height of glory and lapse into vagrancy. Lear’s three daughters’ vastly different personalities are brought to life on stage by YANG Qi, LU Fang, and WAN Qianhui, respectively. French-schooled actor WEI Xiaoping, the Beijing People’s Art Theatre’s young actor, JIN Hao, and ZHAO Ling, from NCPA’s acting company, will play the Earl of Gloucester and his two sons. As the cast brings to light the two families’ desirous aims and secret plots in their striving for power, so too do they reenact the epic of human history, as well as present us with deep truths about our human condition.


British King Lear, getting older in his years, and desirous to rescind his throne, decides to divide the royal territories from among his three daughters. While he is awarding them their shares, the young Cordelia, explains with sincerity that she can not give all of her love totally to her father, whereupon he disinherits her in a fit of rage. Lear’s kingdom is divided between the two older daughters who regaled him with flattery, Goneril and Regan. The King of France, recognizing Cordelia’s integrity, marries the forsaken Cordelia.

The Earl of Gloucester's illegitimate son, Edmund having long coveted his older brother Edgar’s claim their father’s title, forges a letter incriminating him in a parricidal plot to usurp it. Gloucester, in a fit of rage, issues an order for Edgar’s capture and elevates Edmund to a position of power. Edgar has no choice but to assume the identity of a madman and flee into exile.

Shortly after Lear renounces his throne, his two daughters, each in possession of their shares of the kingdom, speedily cast him out, leaving him to wander in the backwoods. Astray in the wilderness and exposed to the elements, Lear’s feelings of rage and regret drive him to madness. But his daughters press on, wishing to thwart future complications and prepare to murder him. In a moment of crisis, Gloucester releases Lear and is in turn gets exposed by his illegitimate son Edmund, who has his eyes gouged out, and flees Dover. The other son, Edgar, accompanies his father disguised as a man named Tom. The youngest daughter, Cordelia, raises an army to rescue her father, but is defeated, captured and put to death. Lear mustwitness it all and dies in woeful sorrow.

NCPA Drama Ensemble was established on July 28th, 2016 and the renowned Chinese actor PU Cunxin was invited to be the Artistic Director. After rounds of screening across the country, 22 members were selected out of a number of professional actors to become the first and the second batch of actors for the team. Having received professional trainings on lines, performance, vocal performance, and body shaping, they finally appeared on the stage of NCPA. As another resident performance troupe following the China NCPA Orchestra, the China NCPA Chorus, and the NCPA Octet, the NCPA Drama Ensemble will focus on rehearsing dramas and participating in other NCPA productions.

NCPA Drama Ensemble has taken part in several NCPA productions, including The Lei Family, Returning Home on a Snowy Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Jane Eyre, and the Ensemble is to present more exciting works in the future. Mr. PU Cunxin as the team’s artistic director is a celebrated actor at Beijing People's Art Theatre, and he is the Chairman of China Theatre Association as well. Moreover, Mr. PU has played important roles in many dramas, films and TV plays.


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