TURKEY & TANTRUMS IN BARD'S KING LEAR
When: Thursday to Saturday. Thursday, 7pm; Friday, 10.30am and 7pm; Saturday, 2pm
Where: Hull Truck Theatre, Ferensway, Hull
To book: 01482 323638
Come and discover the wildlife at Blacktoft Sands nature reserve for just £6. Offer includes entry for 2 adults and up to 3 children, binocular hire and activities for children. Normal value £12.
Terms: Redeem voucher at visitor reception during opening hours, 9am to 5pm. Only, one pair of binoculars per voucher, customers will need to leave car keys as a deposit for binoculars.
Contact: 01405 800024
Valid until: Saturday, June 15 2013
Origins: King Lear is based on a legendary King of the Britons, Leir, who had three daughters. Shakespeare's drama sees the title character descend into madness after dividing his kingdom between two of his three daughters based on their flattery.
Performances: Scholars believe the drama was written between 1603 and 1606 – the earliest recorded performance is December 26, 1606. Between 1811 and 1820 the play was not performed at all in London's major theatres – due to the madness of King George III, it was considered "politically insensitive".
Shakespeare's drama about a family destroyed by greed, has been reworked with a Christmas message for younger audiences. Director Tim Crouch talks to Will Ramsey
C hristmas doesn't always herald peace on Earth. A carb-heavy dinner and a snifter of festive punch can sometimes be the spark for a full-scale family row.
So, when Tim Crouch decided to create a young persons' version of King Lear – Shakespeare's tragic tale of a family pulled apart by greed – the festive season seemed the perfect setting.
"It was how to deliver the play as forcefully as possible – Christmas felt like a good context, as everybody has experienced it, the values of it and the difficulties around it which, in this, revolves around a family in a small terraced house," Tim said.
"It's often at that time of year that resentments can start to surface."
This Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) production marks the start of a three-year project involving Hull Truck Theatre and schools in the area.
The drive is to introduce younger audiences to the playwright's dramas – which, all too often, are viewed as elitist.
"I don't think fear is too strong a word," said Tim, who has adapted the drama.
"There is a historical culture around how Shakespeare should be treated – that he is a mainstream figure who is not for the likes of the regions, or young people or marginalised people.
"The RSC has been guilty of that. It's the idea that Shakespeare should only be performed by those with Received Pronunciation voices.
"It is people like Barrie Rutter (whose company, Northern Broadsides, performs the plays with northern accents) who have been challenging those perceptions.
"After all, Shakespeare was a guy from the West Midlands – he would have had a regional voice."
Tim, an actor and director, became involved in the project last year in a touring production of The Taming Of The Shrew.
This year's production sees a dedicated cast of nine – The Taming Of The Shrew involved actors drawn from the RSC's ensemble – who have been performing the tragedy in theatres and schools.
The previous week had seen the company perform the drama in a Middlesbrough primary school one morning, and then two sold-out performances – in front of a combined audience of 2,000 – at Newcastle's Theatre Royal.
"My overwhelming objective has been to tell the story – I did not want to demonstrate big, highfalutin ideas," said Tim.
"The complexity of that has been reducing King Lear to one hour and 20 minutes for those aged eight and above."
For simplicity's sake, certain elements have been stripped out. "There's no French army rising up against the English," said Tim – but there's no sense, he said, of the play being "dumbed down".
"It has been concentrated," Tim said. "The story moves very quickly, and the characters are vivid.
"We've had people saying to us 'We're so glad you've done it in modern language', to which we take great pleasure in replying it is Shakespeare's words."
The importance he says, is for a young audience to see and experience the play, which, after all, was meant to be performed – rather than being read in a classroom.
After the Hull Truck dates, the production will head for New York and Columbus, Ohio, before returning for a further series of performances in Britain.
But wherever it is staged, Tim follows a simple rule of thumb.
"You cannot indulge yourself with a young audience – they will sniff that out, they don't like it," he said.
"It is a refreshing way to work."