Directed by Piotr Cieplak, Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw, May 2001.
King Lear, in Piotr Cieplak's interpretation, is a wealthy, tempered father, who, without a clear reason, disinherits one of his daughters. He is a leader, who can't bear an opposition, a manipulating player, who regains lucidity only through becoming mad.
The director concentrated on this human dimension of Shakespeare's play, following the spiritual transformation of Lear (Zbigniew Zapasiewicz), the disintegration of the family, rather than their political and historical consequences.
For me he is a godfather, a leader of a clan, a head of family business called the kingdom, says Zapasiewicz about the character he's playing. Lear becomes crazed and I understand this madness as a kind of purification, an acquisition of lucidity, a perception of higher values, calming down, knowledge, that life is not only about manipulating, because it is something unintelligible, impossible to understand, he said an the interview with Jacek Cieślak (Rzeczpospolita 2001-04-11).
It is the Lear conscious that the times, which he represents, are over.
Zapasiewicz'es Lear, wrote after the premiere, Roman Pawłowski, the theatrical critic of Gazeta Wyborcza, does not fight with the ungrateful family, but with disease and death. The betrayal of his daughters, the moral decline, the brotherly war and the madness are all the consecutive stages of dying of Lear and his kingdom. That is why, contrarily to the play, the last word belongs to Lear. When he dies, the lights on the stage go off as his life fades away. The Powszechny Theatre's 'King Lear' is terribly out of fashion. In the times, where youth has became a mandatory religion, and age and disease, a hidden deviation, when we are told that we are forever young and immortal, when death becomes an element of the mass entertainment, and its real face is hidden behind the doors of hospitals and hospices, Piotr Cieplak exposes the ugliness of ageing and dying. In this Lear you will not find quick action or extreme emotions. You will not be charmed by the show or by the special effects. It is worth seeing for one reason: for a piece of hard truth, which we don't allow in our day-to-day life, Pawłowski added.
William Shakespeare, KRÓL LEAR / KING LEAR, directed by Piotr Cieplak, scenery designed by Jan Kozikowski, music by Kormorany group. Premiere: May 12, 2001 at Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw.