Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ will get the Japanese butoh remedy

WHEN it involves the tragedies of William Shakespeare, essentially the most heartfelt and poignant one has most likely acquired to be King Lear. That’s as a result of whereas it’s set on a grand scale, with kings and earls warring for the destiny of their nation, additionally it is a household drama, a few father’s fractured relationship together with his daughters.

A reimagined model of this grand story might be staged in Kuala Lumpur immediately and tomorrow by way of a collaboration by native theatre teams Nyoba Kan and the KL Shakespeare Gamers. Outdated Lear is a multidisciplinary efficiency combining the characters and themes of Shakespeare with the spirit of play inherent in butoh, the avant garde Japanese dance kind.

“I believe the epicness of Shakespeare actually works properly with bodily theatre generally. And I believe that the sweetness that our director brings out actually exposes the human tragedy in Lear which is actually shifting to observe,” says actor Teoh Jun Vinh, referring to director Lee Swee Keong.

“It’s been a refreshing course of. Our director, he doesn’t perceive textual content the identical manner we do, and he has a manner of utilizing the textual content with the soundscape to create motion and pictures that basically stick with you,” provides Zul Zamir, one other solid member.

Lee Swee Keong directs, choreographs (with Dai Matsuoka) and acts in 'Old Lear'. Photo: DEV LEELee Swee Keong directs, choreographs (with Dai Matsuoka) and acts in ‘Outdated Lear’. Photograph: DEV LEE

Lee additionally choreographs the present alongside Japanese butoh artist Dai Matsuoka. The solid includes Matsuoka, Lee, Teoh, Zul, Lim Quickly Heng and Sandee Chew; Lim Kien Lee is the present’s dramaturge.

Outdated Lear is a part of the 12th KL Butoh Fest, which additionally features a images exhibition and butoh workshop (data at

For these unfamiliar with King Lear’s plot, it’s about an previous king with three daughters. He divides his lands between his two elder daughters who flatter him excessively however leaves nothing to his favorite, Cordelia, who refuses to take action. Battle begins after King Lear is disrespected by the 2 older ladies and he slowly realises his error.

That is the third Shakespeare-meets-butoh present for Nyoba Kan and the KL Shakespeare Gamers. The businesses beforehand collaborated on Laments Of The Useless (2016) and A Story Of Star-Crossed Lovers (2018), their variations of the performs Richard III and Romeo And Juliet respectively.

Don’t anticipate lengthy Shakespearean soliloquies on this newest work. This very bodily manufacturing permits its actors’ actions to talk louder than phrases.

“There’s a resistance to talking an excessive amount of. Phrases can get in the best way. Lee is extra within the creation of feeling, and ambiance and environment,” says Quickly Heng.

“Doing this present is like portray an image – what does it imply? What’s the story behind it? And a part of it’s what individuals carry to it.”

Dramaturge Kien Lee provides, “There’s no have to be redundant. Typically, the physicality might be highly effective sufficient already. You don’t must have further phrases. So now we have to select and select when is an effective time to make use of them.”

This brevity, Quickly Heng says, introduced fairly an thrilling problem to the manufacturing.

“After we did A Story Of Star-Crossed Lovers, for instance, most individuals had been type of already aware of the story of Romeo And Juliet. Not as many individuals know the story of King Lear. We’re engaged on one of the simplest ways to convey the tough plot of the story,” he says.

Actors Sandee Chew (foreground), Zul Zamir (background, left) and Teoh Jun Vinh in rehearsal. Photo: KL Shakespeare PlayersActors Sandee Chew (foreground), Zul Zamir (background, left) and Teoh Jun Vinh in rehearsal. Photograph: KL Shakespeare Gamers

In keeping with solid and crew, the present will characteristic a minimal set with a number of – very important – props set towards a musical soundscape. All of the acquainted excessive factors of King Lear, nonetheless, might be current, from Lear’s take a look at of affection to his daughters, to his reconciliation, and even the notorious “eye-gouging” scene.

Additionally, anticipate a little bit of native flavour to color issues up.

“Swee Keong gave me a keris. And I did Edmund’s speech,” says Zul, referring to a very manipulative character within the play. “He gave me some references to some political conditions and a few concepts of what I may do with them. He additionally requested me to study a little bit of silat because the language for my actions.”

Moreover, there might be no fastened roles, with completely different actors enjoying completely different roles all through the present. This implies male performers would possibly play feminine characters and vice versa at sure factors.

“In Malaysia, now we have this notion that butoh is all about portray your face white, shaving your head and strolling about in a loincloth. However no, it’s greater than that. It’s all about difficult the established order,” Quickly Heng says.

“Butoh is about questioning traditions or buildings that we take with no consideration,” Teoh provides. “Why not play this character at this second? Why not query the shape? It’s all about stripping away artificiality, and exposing the intimate. It must be skilled.”

Outdated Lear is on stage on Nov 22 and 23 at White Field and Black Field, Mapkl, Publika, Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur. Showtimes are 8.30pm and tickets are RM68. Tickets out there on-line at For extra data, name 012-300 8255. For details about the KL Butoh Fest, go to

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