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King Lear In Brooklyn

MICHAEL Pennington (PR 1957-61), who toured as Lear in Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy King Lear this year, has published a book about his experiences.

“King Lear In Brooklyn” is Pennington’s meditations on grappling with Shakespeare’s greatest role, and gives a fascinating insight into the punishing mental and physical impact the role can have on those who are brave enough to take on the challenge.

Containing sharp reportage on the time he spent in Brooklyn, Pennington examines the relationships between the cast and the characters they play, and explores the director’s approach to Lear and that of the other actors. We see the production develop and unfurl through the eyes of an English actor playing the lead in an otherwise all-American cast.

It includes a transcript of a conversation between the author and Sir Ian McKellen, and gives an enthralling account of the circumstances and fortunes of the New York production. Pennington dispels the idea of this great play as forbidding and remote, by bringing its characters vividly into the present in their contemporary voices, to explain their reactions, strategies, and struggles on the way to the production’s acclaimed success.

Funny, personal and deeply honest, Pennington’s account is also probing and scholarly – there is no greater insight into Shakespeare’s greatest role. This is the work of one of our most sublime actor-writers at the top of his game.

Michael Pennington is also going to be appearing in a BBC 2 programme on Lear which is going out at 9pm on Saturday 29th October.