King Lear is a great play for a play-reading, with only one proviso – you need to have someone with the stamina and gravitas to play Lear. It’s a very demanding role on stage, and it is pretty demanding even in a play-reading, though at least you don’t have to learn all the lines. And I rather suspect there might be quite a few actors who would have liked to play Lear, and either never got the opportunity, or felt rather daunted at the idea. A play-reading might well be worth thinking about. We ran a playreading of Lear back in Nov 14, before we had MFFEV5, but that playreading report might give you some ideas as to whether it’s for your group.
If you decide to go ahead, Players-Shakespeare.com provides playreading castings for 9 to 12 playreaders (there’s a lot of charactyers), but we have decided to pre-configure the casting for 10 players. (If you have a smaller or larger group of readers, you can always configure the MFFEV5 Cloud Reader for the appropriate number of readers yourselves. You can also read how our play-reading of King Lear went at:
If the whole play is a bit much, we’ve published Let’sPlay extracts of a couple of my favourite scenes from the play:
- Mad Lear meets blind Gloucester (A4S5, 3 players)
When we put on a promenade production of King Lear, with a cast of adults and children, the youngest children used to watch this scene in rehearsal with fascination – and so did the adults!
- Lear clashes with his wary daughters and storms off (A2S2, 10 players)
If you haven’t got the time to play the whole of Lear, but you’ve got 10 players, this scene is in some senses, the crux of the play. Lear visits his daughter Regan, asking to stay with her. Regan prevaricates, and then Goneril arrives….. a great, powerful scene for someone who can take on Lear.
For the play, or for extracts, each player needs their own tablet, smartphone, or laptop, with a web browser. The experience is probably best on a tablet, then a smartphone, and then a laptop. The main advantages of the tablet and smartphone are: the touchscreen which makes scrolling easier, and the full-screen presentation of the text.
Each player needs to select one of the following roles to play, and clicking on the link will take them to a script of the play which shows their role(s) in Highlit Text (their lines are highlit in a colour; other speakers lines are shown in conventional black on white). Each player can choose to change to Parts and Cues format if they wish.
After each player has beem allocated a role, they should click on the link for the appropriate Player No., which will take them to Act 1 Scene 1 of the play, with their role(s) highlit in colour, in the scenes in which they appear. They can, of course, change the script to Parts and Cues format, in the Configuration window (Click on the gearwheel in the top right-hand corner of the play script windows) though at least one of the players should remain in Highlit Text format, so they can act as prompt for the others if things go wrong.
When everyone has selected their role, let the reading commence.
When you’ve read the play, there’s a number of things you can do:
Give us feedback on how the play-reading went (good and bad) by posting at Player-Shakespeare.com’s Facebook page.
Choose another piece for 2, 3, 4, or more players to read from: Playreadings for 2 players
Choose another play to read from: Playreadings of Complete Plays
If you want to understand better how to use our MFFEV5 CloudReader, read:
- Preparing Malvolio for Performance using MFFEV5 CloudReader and Parts and Cues