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théâtre national de nice

Saison 2018-19

théâtre national de nice

[ Original creation | Production ]



with Karim El-Andari, Renato Giuliani, Stella Giuliani music Jean-Baptiste Boussougou consultant and coordinator FSL Joëlle Stefanini costume Elisa Octo assistant director Milica Milosavljevic trainee assistant Elsa Thoreau, Nathaniel Baker Erasmus trainee Marianna Bruni lighting Emmanuel Guedj sound Gwenaël Gaudin production Théâtre National de Nice - CDN Nice Côte d’Azur

Thanks to CIE Les Anonymes Créatures (Lausanne), Ateliers de la Diacosmie- Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur, Pierre Bellay et Théâtre Francis Gag, Théâtre de l’Eau Vive.

Bitterly disillusioned, King Lear discovers the trickery and cheating of this world; masks fall, drama unfolds, war is imminent, madness lurks as he banishes his own daughter to exile.
Astoundingly honest, Renato Giuliani beckons us into the mind of a king who is losing his sanity, shaking us up with his inner tempests, flashes of lucidity and schizophrenic ramblings. Delightful and touching, his own daughter Stella Giuliani portrays the new generation as the tragic Cordelia, a girl who gives her father the most beautiful gift of all: true love. The young hearing-impaired actor Karim El-Andari completes the acting trio, playing the character of the King’s fool. Through his poetic movements and philosophical musings, he echoes his master’s plight in this deeply moving piece that must not be missed.

An astonishing adaptation that explores the very depths of the human soul.

An original and intimate adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy presented by an unexpected trio of performers. Moving and surprising.


Interview Renato Giuliani

Interview by Caroline Audibert

What particularly touches you about the character of King Lear?

Lear is a very powerful play that still resonates with what is happening today, especially the question of inheritance, transmission. King Lear wants to pass on his kingdom to his descendants – he incarnates greatness and magnanimity…but he has a weakness: he is blinded by the love his three daughters have for him. He projects an idealistic vision of this love and sees things as he would like to see them and not as they actually are. Love carries an element of idealization of the other and disappointment arises at the moment when one realizes that the other does not live up to the image we have of them. Disenchantment sets in. King Lear will experience this.
It means a lot to me to play this intensely human role. Lear has had a successful life, has been a good king to his subjects and believes that he has ruled with fairness and wisdom. This proves to be a fabrication. He has created a mask from everything that pleases him; in the same way artists from the 18th century embellished the portraits of their benefactors. On the eve of bequeathing his kingdom and withdrawing from public duties, Lear asks his three daughters to express their love for him. The two eldest, Goneril and Regan shower him with flattery but his favourite, the youngest, Cordelia, speaks more truthfully and does not mince her words. Lear, who was expecting her to be more enthused, is beside himself with anger and disinherits her, banishing her to exile. Lear then learns about the terrible plans that Goneril and Regan have hatched as they vie to free themselves from their responsibilities. They reveal who they really are and their hypocrisy comes through. Lear sinks into deep despair. The shock makes him go mad. His darker side quickly shows itself. In my performance, I highlight the almost schizophrenic aspects of his personality because it is then, ironically, that he becomes his true self.

Shakespeare’s play is like a great fresco, adorned with many characters. Yet, you have decided to use only three actors …why is that?

I’m choosing to put an intimate angle on this play so that we can really get inside the king’s head. I want to bring out the play’s emotional force. I’m slipping into Lear’s skin with the actress Stella Giuliani at my side, my daughter in real life. She will play the king’s three daughters. She hails from the Academy of Performing Arts in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, La Manufacture in Lausanne – I have wanted to work with her for sometime. For me, it’s very powerful to be able to act together in this play, especially as it talks about relationships across the generations. Finally, the play revolves around another important character – the King’s Fool. Lear and his fool have very close ties: when the king is chased away, only his fool follows him. He supports the deluded king. A young, hard-of-hearing actor, Karim El-Andari, with whom I have worked for three years at the Clément Ader Sensory Education Institute in Nice, plays the role. This young man has a real gift for gesticulation! He speaks little, using his body to express himself, developing a fascinating and unique form of language.

So, yours is an adaptation of the play?

Absolutely. It is an adaptation but it’s still important to me to remain true to the spirit of Shakespeare. I haven’t yet decided in what environment the characters will evolve. I simply know that I don’t see them in the historical world as described by Shakespeare but in a more contemporary setting, futuristic even. I’m in the process of exploring different avenues. As for the text, Marie-Paule Ramo, who has often worked with Irina Brook, adds a degree of gravitas to the adaptation and dialogue.

Which other performances of Shakespeare’s tragedies have marked or influenced you?

A long time ago, I was fascinated by Kurosawa’s masterpiece, Ran. This is a Japanese version of King Lear, set in the time of the Samurai. There is one scene in particular that marked me and is a source of inspiration for me today: when the king is in the desert. The character’s solitude is very poignant set against the barren landscape.

Is Lear the portrait of a man who veers into madness?

I see Lear as a great king rather like Lord Lorenzo dei Medici, a man who loved to surround himself with art and beautiful things without really understanding their meaning. He loses his mind when he realizes that the beauty all about him and bestowed on his daughters is insignificant compared with the cruel passage of disenchantment he is going through. In fact, Lear’s entrapment is of his own doing. In spite of himself, he stands for a world of false pretences, where appearances are deceptive. He didn’t realize that he was a pawn in a game over which he had no control. The two daughters who betray him symbolize greed and unhealthy ambition. They make me think of one facet of our consumer society where we are drawn in by things that look wonderful and enticing….like those tempting, ready-made dishes made with ingredients that are actually bad for us. We reject straightforward simplicity just as Lear initially rejects Cordelia, his third daughter simply because she is not part of that game. This is when he suffers a loneliness that opens up some form of truth to him. He is at his own tipping point and, depending on which side the scales tilt, he is capable of wisdom or psychosis. It is not the madness of Zarathustra who sings, dances and reaches some form of freedom. He endures a profound psychic suffering, one that can bring him to his knees and destroy him.

In this Shakespearean play there are a number of other characters and schemers – how do you deal with them?

All of these characters will be in Lear’s mind: voices, memories that come to the surface…or even perhaps like the ghosts in Macbeth. The schizophrenic king talks to these voices and fabricates an entire story where characters really exist but come from within him. The king’s fool pretends to hear them too out of loyalty and respect for his master. There is that unforgettable scene when Lear and his fool brave a violent storm. Lear is physically experiencing the cold, the rain, the wind… but the storm is raging only in his head! The fool plays along with this “storm” as he doesn’t have the heart to abandon the king to his delirium, a little like when Sancho and Don Quixote face the windmills. Lear wonders why he has to endure such injustice. He doesn’t understand why he should be stripped of his dignity after having given everything to his elder daughters. If he is not pushed to the edge of madness, after all that – being plunged into an abyss of solitude – it is thanks to his fool!

How does this character relate to us?

I would like to highlight aspects of human beings that lurk in the shadows and that deserve to be given some thought. I think that if the reality that surrounds us is really what it is, that means there is a significant lack of consciousness and thought. The trap we face is that we find ourselves more and more alone…and the effects of this isolation are very harmful. Society is comfortable with it: the more alone we are, the more we become good consumers, tempted to fill our lives with those alluring products. In reality, we find ourselves in front of an abyss…the abyss of loneliness. This is Lear’s condition.

Lear comes out of his solitude in his relationship with his daughter Cordelia whose love for him is sincere. Is this a moment of respite?

For me, healing comes from one thing: beauty. Beauty has an incredible power to heal. It brings joy, laughter, gentleness and such a feeling of wellbeing that it overcomes all obstacles. When King Lear realizes about his blindness, it’s too late! Preparations for war are underway, his daughter Cordelia has been captured. She will die, the victim of Edmond’s scheming. At the end of the play, we witness the emotional reunion of father and daughter, but tragedy reigns: Lear learns that he is responsible for his daughter’s death. He arrives too late to save her. Instead of recognising his errors and weaknesses, Lear is angry: he remains a prisoner of the past.

Is this the man consumed with resentment described by Nietzsche, poles apart from the Creator?

Yes, a little. He wraps himself in regret, remains turned to the past. We are often prisoners of this kind of attitude. We rarely live the here and now: we are so caught up in the past or are looking to the future. Whereas in fact, a new world is born every instant…..a new world we can master and shape step by step!

Does your adaptation urge us to want to live in the present moment?

There is a Zen tale I like very much and that covers this idea well. It’s the story of a man who is walking in a field. Suddenly he comes across a tiger. He runs away and almost falls into a ravine, managing to hold on to the root of a wild grape vine. Below him is another tiger waiting to devour him. Only the vine root holds him up. Two mice then begin to gnaw away at the vine. Suddenly the man notices a beautiful, ripe strawberry next to him – holding on with just one hand, he picks the fruit. “Delicious!”
Lear is not like this man. He doesn’t see the present: he is caught up in the storms that rage inside him. He doesn’t see the strawberry. He arrives too late to save his daughter, who takes her final breath.
I’ve thought a lot about the ending and told myself that at this precise moment, a flash goes through him: emotion, the true love of his daughter. The realization instantly hits him that he has two seconds remaining between him and his daughter, an instant of suspended beauty that is an eternity: what a delicious strawberry!

classic inspiration
Shake Nice ! festival
Small Auditorium estimated running time 1h30 from 10 years +
  • april
  • wed 3 8:30pm
  • thu 4 8:30pm
  • fri 5 8:30pm
  • sat 6 3:30pm
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