JoAnn Johnson shares an inspiration

At this point–about halfway through the rehearsal process–I am watching the snow fall and hoping it stops soon so we can rehearse!  
We are working together in rehearsal to create a world that will hold the vastness of the vision of this play.  The playwright builds a universe out of dichotomies–love/lust, power/fragility, loyalty/ betrayal, age/youth, wisdom/folly, insight/blindness ( and on and on…)  How to hold all that and more in the space of three hours onstage-and a tiny stage, at that?  The answer seems clear, but nonetheless a huge challenge:  to let the play speak through believable characters, and trust  the power of the human imagination, especially that of our audience! 
One very useful resource for me in this process has been Marvin Rosenberg’s THE MASKS OF KING LEAR.  Here is a passage from his book that inspires me– 
The dark, deadly, grimly comic world of LEAR evokes so wide and intense a range of responses on so many levels of consciousness because it reflects so many varieties of human possibility, from the transcendent to the animal–so many that it must defeat any attempt to enclose its meaning in limited formulae such as redemption, retribution, endgame, morality,….We may find some rest in the assurance that Shakespeare shares our preference for love over hate, honesty over falsehood, loyalty over disloyalty, order over disorder; but we cannot go on to extract morals from his play:  that order will triumph, love conquers all, suffering redeems, recompense waits in the next world–unless we invent them.  The playwright describes, he does not prescribe.  Only a tragic vision as vast as one of his own lines from LEAR can suggest the whole implication of the play’s world for our own:  Edgar’s
                                  …it is,                    
And my heart breaks at it.

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