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King Lear in Brooklyn: An Evening with Michael Pennington

4th June 2017
Venue: St Peter's Church, Oundle PE8 4AL
Time: 7.00pm - 8.00pm

One of the world’s leading Shakespearean actors, Michael Pennington has appeared triumphantly as King Lear in New York in 2014, his performance on a par with his great predecessors, Paul Scofield and Sir John Gielgud. 

King Lear in Brooklyn, published in June 2016, 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.

King Lear in Brooklyn 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.

In response to Michael’s latest book, the actor Kenneth Branagh has said, “Michael Pennington is a great actor, and a great writer about actors and acting. This book has all the wit, wisdom and passion that characterises his performances. Here is a page-turning artistic journey to an undiscovered country on the map, and in the mind. It brings with it all the touchingly complex humanity that the author finds in King Lear itself. It is written with honesty, heart and humour by a master of his craft, and I thoroughly recommend it.”

Michael Pennington has played Hamlet, Timon of Athens, Berowne, Angelo, Richard II, Coriolanus, Macbeth, Henry V and Leontes in The Winter’s Tale. Together with director Michael Bogdanov, he founded the English Shakespeare Company in 1986 and was its Joint Artistic Director until 1992.

In April 2004 he became the second actor, after Harley Granville-Barker in 1925, to deliver the British Academy’s annual Shakespeare lecture. The lecture was entitled Barnadine's Straw: The Devil in Shakespeare's Detail.

He played Oedipus on BBC TV, Jude the Obscure on radio and Michael Foot in The Iron Lady. He has directed in the UK, US, Romania and Japan, and is an Honorary Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Further to his long and varied career on the stage, he has written ten books including several about various Shakespeare’s plays.

Tickets £8 (£6), £1 off early bird tickets bought before 27th May, available from the Oundle Box Office, 4 New Street, Oundle.

Open hours: 10.00am – 4.00pm Mon to Fri: Tel 01832 274734, online at www.oundlefestival.org.uk

Any queries call Helen on 07743988181 or email oundlelitfestival@hotmail.co.uk