King Lear + Rabbit Holes + Today’s Birthday: Thomas Geoffrey Wilkinson

I spent most of a chilly Sunday diving into an increasingly deeper series of rabbit holes. A theater friend and I were talking about seeing plays in London, and I mentioned that the greatest performance I’d ever seen was a production of King Lear. Interested, my friend asked if I recalled who had directed, who played Lear, which theater I saw it at,

I told him it might have been the Royal Shakespeare Company, maybe in the Barbican Theater? And then I completely blanked on who was in the cast. It was at least twenty years ago, after all. I realized how fuzzy my memories were.

from my edition of A.L. Rowse’s The Annotated Shakespeare

Those memories wouldn’t stop teasing me, so a couple days later I dove down the Internet rabbit hole to see what I could retrieve….

“My wits begin to turn.
Come on, my boy: how dost, my boy? art cold?
I am cold myself. Where is this straw, my fellow?
The art of our necessities is strange,
That can make vile things precious. Come,
your hovel.
Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
That’s sorry yet for thee.” – King Lear (Act III, Scene ii)

I began with the Royal Shakespeare Company website and none of the actors from their King Lear productions in the early 90s looked at all familiar from the show I’d seen with my sister, nor did the staging… where to look next?

An illustration of King Lear in the old book Shakespeare, by N. Kozhevnikov, 1894, Moscow
King Lear with his daughter Cordelia

The only detail I remembered clearly is that not long after I was in London a film about the Troubles came out, it had a wild plot, I’ve certainly never forgotten that plot, and I’d recognized the actor who’d played Edmund, who (in my opinion) had been the weakest actor in the King Lear cast. But I couldn’t recall the name of the film, so I googled films released in the 1990s about the Troubles in Ireland and there it was, The Crying Game, of course, and I clicked on the link to the movie’s website and tracked down the name of the actor again, then googled him for playing in King Lear, and leapfrogging across websites I finally landed on the Royal Court Theater, and the English Stage Company, and their 1993 King Lear. Not at all the RSC or the Barbican, but with a jolt I recognized several names from the cast, male actors who have gone on to have illustrious acting careers, Tom Wilkinson as King Lear, I remember being electrified by the anguished resonance of Lear’s speeches on the heath and how I’d believed every word he spoke. And of all people portraying The Fool it was Andy Serkis, now wildly successful and better known to audiences as Gollum. As The Fool his character was a shaved head cross-dresser in heels, the play was staged with Lear as a retiring general/leader, in Eastern Europe maybe, and at the end The Fool was dead, hanging in the air from the end of a noose for an entire scene, it was horrifying, my sister and I talked a lot after the show about how uncomfortable it must have been for the actor playing The Fool to remain motionless for so long. The next day I traveled down yet another rabbit hole for the other members in the cast, and discovered Edgar had been played by none less than a young Ian Glen –  yes, him – Ser Jorah Mormont of Game of Thrones.

After these revelations I had long phone calls with both my sister and my best friend about how incredible and wonderful, magical, mind-bendingly great those performances were, and my God it wasn’t twenty years ago, it was thirty years ago,

and I am quite sure I’ll never see a production to match that one ever again, ever, and I shall die a lucky and changed human being, a better person for having watched and listened to Tom Wilkinson, Andy Serkis, and Ian Glen in what is possibly the greatest play ever written by the greatest writer who ever lived.

This post is especially dedicated to Thomas Geoffrey Wilkinson, born on this day 5 February 1948 in Wharfedale, Yorkshire, England. Mr. Wilkinson has been nominated twice for the Academy Award and has won the British Academy Film Award, Primetime Emmy Award, and a Golden Globe. But for me he is forever King Lear, baying on the heath. -Jadi

NOTES: I even tracked down some photos! Andy Sirkis as The Fool: www.photostage.co.uk, King Lear, The Fool, Edmund and Kent: www.photostage.co.uk ©Jadi Campbell 2022. Image of Lear and Cordelia courtesy of Dreamstime.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was honored as 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist for the Independent Author Network, and American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts, and named a Finalist for Greece’s international 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

 

Saved By A Blogger Award

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“But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley.” –Robert Burns To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough

Feste the Fool: [Singing]
He that has and a little tiny wit–
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,–
Must make content with his fortunes fit,
For the rain it raineth every day.” —Shakespeare King Lear, Act III, Scene 2

“Man plans; God laughs.” —Anonymous

We’re  renovating our apartment, and line up all the dates for workmen and repairs months in advance. We decide that once it starts will be the perfect time for me to fly back to America and visit my family. It’s finally about to begin, when suddenly…

We receive a phone call that my mother-in-law is in the hospital. She lives about 1 1/2 hours south of us, so Uwe and I take turns heading down there. He spends a night in a hotel. I arrive by train the next day and take over so that Uwe can drive home to work.

We need to move Mama into assisted living; I volunteer to go meet with the nursing home staff. For anyone contemplating life in a foreign language, the year I spent in submersion classes learning to speak fluent German pays off now. It would be scary not to understand what is happening, and awful not to be able to help my husband.

Her doctors think she needs an operation and schedule a day for it. Then the next time I go down, they inform us they’ve decided not to operate. She is moved out of the ICU. And then back into the ICU. And then back out of the ICU. Uwe deals with banks and Mama’s newspaper deliveries and the phone company. We need to keep updating the nursing home. Each day is a roller coaster experience.

Should I cancel or push back my flight to the US? I keep asking, but Uwe continues to assure me I can head out as planned.

Germany has record flooding. It rains every day and the train runs alongside the banks of the Neckar River. I have the surreal experience of watching the waters keep rising, along with our concerns about Mama.

In the meantime I try to write. I see massage patients. But I’m shocked when my sister announces my nephew’s birthday has arrived. I know it’s still a few days away, and then l look at a calendar. I have the date and what day of the week it is both wrong. I lost 48 hours somewhere.

Friday the tile layer begins work in the hallway. Saturday I go to my monthly writers’ group and come home to find an email about an award. Sunday I take my last train ride. Monday the tile layer returns and Mama can finally leave the hospital. Uwe drives down to get his mother settled in and buy furniture, etc. for her new digs. I remain home to hold down the fort. Tuesday the next Handwerker arrives and for two days walls are fixed in the next room (as I type these words. Literally.)

I am grateful for the completely unexpected VERY INSPIRING BLOGGER Award. It’s a glad moment in what have been harried days and nights. The wonderful, creative Jen Payne at http://randomactsofwriting.wordpress.com has honored me with the nomination. It’s a lovely recognition. It doesn’t involve answering or posing questions. Best of all, it arrived at the height/depth of 2 weeks of insanity. This award provided me with light for the end of the tunnel, letting me know that maybe I’m not just viewing the headlights of an oncoming train ….

The word inspire means to “fill with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” I feel my creativity slowly returning as the flood waters in some spots finally begin to recede.

Heartfelt thanks again to Jen at Random Acts of Writing [+ art] for the nomination. I’m delighted to pass on the compliment by following the award rules and nominating 15 other bloggers.

VERY INSPIRING BLOGGER RULES
• Display the award logo on your blog.
• Link back to the person who nominated you.
• Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
• Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

May my nominations bring you amusement, relief, or whatever you may be needing at the moment. It’s great to be part of this community! (Written June 12th, 2013)

  1. http://aleafinspringtime.wordpress.com/
  2. http://alien-heartbeat.com/
  3. http://arranqhenderson.com/
  4. http://athingforwordsjahesch.wordpress.com/
  5. http://barbtaub.com/
  6. http://chattyowl.com/
  7. http://gallivance.net/
  8. http://lifeoutofthebox.com/
  9. http://narrativeecopsych.wordpress.com/
  10. http://nomadruss.me/
  11. http://ohgodmywifeisgerman.com/
  12. http://raysharp.wordpress.com/
  13. http://theforesterartist.com/
  14. http://valeriedavies.com/
  15. http://windagainstcurrent.com/