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| puppet lear |

Puppet Lear, byRachel Hutt

By Rachel Hutt

“Radical Reinterpretation ofaClassic“

ByRachel Hutt

Anatomia Ensemble isayoung Finland-based theatre company. They recently performed atthe Moscow Mossovet Theatre inRussia asapart ofthe State Theatre ofNations, which provides performance opportunities for the best touring productions and emerging artists from Russia and abroad.

Darkness. Heavy, labored breathing accompanied bybeeping hospital machines. Asthe lights come up, tothe audience's surprise, Lear isrevealed asapuppet. Hunched over with bulging eyes, heisnaked. The King fumbles with his hospital bed. Afrail, old man; heisnear death. Teetering onthe edge ofinsanity, hehallucinates, blurring the lines between dreams and reality. Anatomia Ensemble's The Anatomy ofLear, awordless deconstruction ofKing Lear, that features puppets alongside live actors, awakens amore empathetic Lear byexposing his remorse and fragility. Anatomia Ensemble's mission isto: “dive into aworld beyond words, searching how totransform feelings into images.“ This strictly visual performance boils King Lear down toits essence, stripping away the heightened language and complex subplots.

Bysolely employing visual images asthe means totell their story, the ensemble was able to“investigate the themes ofloss and reconciliation.“ Onthe verge ofmadness, Lear leaves the physical world ofsickness and old age behind and enters aphantasmagorical realm ofnightmares. Two curtains part toreveal Lear's hallucination: anoversized dead version ofhimself onagurney. Amedical examiner performs anautopsy. Along with his heart, three screaming fetuses injars are ripped from his womb. The babies are his three daughters: Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia. The act ofremoving Lear's heart isaclear metaphor for his „heartless” actions. His rash judgments and treatment ofhis daughters have come back tohaunt him.

InShakespeare's King Lear, Goneril and Regan manipulate their father for power and control. Byhaving puppeteers play the parts ofthe sisters, Anatomia Ensemble further highlights the supremacy Lear's daughters had over him. Asapuppet, Lear, aninanimate object, iscompletely reliant onhis puppeteers (his daughters) for „life.”

Lear's desire tochange arouses compassion for his character. Occasionally, Lear wakes upfrom his demonic illusions crying, „Cordelia!” This isthe only voiced word inthe entire production. Byuttering her name, Lear laments disowning Cordelia and yearns for reconciliation. Somewhat aware ofhis environment, hecoughs weakly and shivers from the cold. Aonce powerful ruler reverts back tobeing ababy.

Lear istoo weak totalk. The audience sees his physical and emotional pain through his body language. Basic life tasks such asgetting dressed and eating ameal become too difficult tocomplete. Herings for anurse who helps him get dressed, fetches his glasses, locates anewspaper, and tucks him tightly inbed. When offered food the sickly-thin King acts like achild, swatting his meal away. Underneath his regressive behavior, Lear senses death. Inhis vulnerability, weidentify with his suffering. Wesee ourselves inLear.

AsLear slips into unconsciousness, inhis final dream, all three ofhis estranged daughters return tohis deathbed. Caressing him with tender hands, they forgive him. Their unconditional love gives him the permission todie. Hetakes afew more labored breaths and passes away.