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King Lear Theatrical Posters

Michele Walfred  (with illustrations)


King Lear in a single image: An examination of modern theatrical posters


     They exist to get our attention. Whether seen along urban construction walkways, featured in the entertainment section of our local newspaper, push-pinned to a college campus bulletin board, or displayed behind glass under a theatre marquee, the modern theatrical poster is an important and expressive component of any theatrical production.  Obviously, they are created to announce and invite - giving the passerby the needed who, what, where and when. Sometimes only a photograph of a well-known lead actor is all that is needed to entice the audience and fill the seats. But increasingly the genre has availed itself of individual and collaborative artistic expression that offers stunning visual interpretations of complex themes. Few plays are more complex than William Shakespeare’s King Lear, and the artists who create posters used to symbolize the many metaphors and motifs within the play have risen to the challenge to meet these complexities.

     Throughout its 400-year history, King Lear challenged stage producers and directors. For a century and a half, it was thought to be too disturbing to present as originally written. In 1681, Nahum Tate revised King Lear with a happy ending and this version became the  performance standard until 1838 (Foakes 12). In the 19th century, King Lear was considered repulsive and even foolish (Houseman 71). Today a panoply of costume, sets, acting styles and thematic emphasis offer audiences new ways to experience and ponder the work. Set in the modern era and in ancient times, Lear Took shape as a corporate businessman, military leader, burly pagan monarch, and Inuit Eskimo. Shakespeare’s tragic, poetic work inspires illustrative art, paintings, etchings, woodcuts, sculpture etc., in the best classical and modern traditions. “Shakespeare functions as a kind of barometer for each age and tells us more, in the way he’s produced, about ourselves even than we tell ourselves” (Loney 6). As a significant measure of Shakespeare’s oeuvre, theatrical posters of King Lear have a great deal to say.

     Prior to the mid-20th century, posters, or playbills as they are known in England, only used text to announce performances. According to Jo Wilding, archival librarian for the Royal Shakespeare Company, playbills provided basic information for an upcoming performance. Wilding provided playbills from 1789 (Figure 1) and 1859 (Figure 2) as typical examples, adding that a single play rarely had a poster all its own and various productions were listed together. Searching at my behest, she could not find a single image used in the United Kingdom prior to the 1950s. More than likely, the lack of advertising imagery had more to with expenses and a lack of graphic technology, than from a lack of ideas or artistic inspiration. Subsequently, communication arts and technology exploded during and after the World War II era, allowing theatrical poster art to experiment with images and artistic expression.

 Figure 1
Figure 2

     With the advent and growth of the film industry in the 20th century, a new generation raised on visual entertainment emerged as did a renewed reverence and celebration for all things Shakespeare.  Movies, television and theatre all competed for audience attention. Posters, used to promote war bonds and travel, found their way to film and theaters at the same time King Lear returned to the stage with renewed curiosity.

     These artistic offerings, particularly for King Lear, suggest how we might consider the masterwork and by extension, ourselves. The posters selected here to showcase,  best represent a contemporary look at the emergent visual themes and metaphors employed to interpret King Lear for a modern audience in the second half of the 20th century: The turbulence of internal and external nature, the folly of man, human insight, and division and loss. Visually powerful, complex and disturbing, these posters provoke and challenge. They seem to say to us, “This is King Lear today. His story remains relevant to us all. Are you ready to explore how things went so terribly wrong? Are we really that much different today?”


Nature Unraveling – Loss of Control

     Istvan Orosz created his poster (Figure 3) for a 1999 production of Lear Király (King Lear), Petrofi Theatre, Hungary. Orosz deftly employs nature, the most ubiquitous theme used in Lear, in his representation.  The high contrast drawing is complicated in construction and effectively conveys an entangled mind lost in an encroaching chaos.

     Lear is seen in profile, slightly pointing away from our eyes, facing the wind. The head is constructed of white tree branches against a black background. The branches, swept back by the wind, are splayed out, exposing Lear’s internal mind. Sturdy branches frame the shape of his face. Stray twigs on the face delicately suggesting an eyelash and beard, run askew, hinting at a turbulent wind, but also residual defiance and strength against the storm.


Figure 3


     There are no leaves on this tree. No fruit. This Lear is in the winter of his life. The fruits of his reproduction, his children, are gone and out of reach. Lear is of, and witness to, nature. Internally and externally, nature is unraveling at a progressive speed. Secondary and tertiary branches at the back of his head, bent by the force of wind, scramble out in all directions.

     A golden crown lies entangled inside, vulnerable. Lear does not relinquish his inner identity willingly, even in his unruly madness. Desperate  — his external and internal environment is rapidly declining, Lear still sees himself “every inch a king” (4.6.107).  He stomps, pounds, and barks commands. He expects fealty and respect from everyone. Orosz positions Lear’s crown left of center, clearly on its way out. Nature’s wind is reclaiming its supremacy, as the crown leaves its former possessor. The central branches, Lear’s core, have lost their grip—they are the clutching fingers of Lear’s psyche trying to prevent the escape.

     Russian scholar Alexander block, in a speech to actors in 1967 employed the metaphor of a tree for King Lear,

Unerringly the tree knows of the approach of autumn…it does not fear the unexpected and persistent northern wind, the downpour of rain, the sudden abrupt frosts, which in one might consume the foliage even now ready to die. But there is one truth, which the tree, like everything in nature, never knows: that a storm can uproot it from the earth or an alien hand can saw it down. If you have ever sawed down a big tree, still full of strength, you must have been amazed right away by the immensity of the felled tree and by the noisy rustling in its still living leaves, as if all of them had suddenly found out about their destruction and were sending their rustle into the blue sky before flying down, breaking apart and half burying themselves in the earth, known till then only to the roots. King Lear’s heart is such a proudly growing tree.  His estate was a “shadowy forest” full of wild animals, grasses and berries (Blok 373-374).

There is a suggestion of transparency–and it’s true, as we read the play or watch it performed, we see Lear’s mistake and grow uncomfortable with the consequences of his hubris.

     Another European artist, Dimitri Popovic used the storm scenes as inspiration for a poster he created for a 1998 production of Kralj Lear (King Lear), the National Theatre, Zagreb, Croatia (Figure 4). Like Orosz, Popovic has chosen the same color palate of white, black and gold tones, and a motif of strong winds to depict his interpretation of King Lear.

Figure 4

     A handsome and august Lear has his back to the wind. The torrent scatters his hair in many directions, exposing a noble forehead, but obscuring a concerned,  clouded truth in his eyes. Twigs and leaves swirl around him. White and grey dominate his hair, but there are still curls and streaks of color left, enough to suggest that many good years are left to rule. Lear still displays a residual, godlike countenance, but he is quickly losing ground against powerful forces. He is now in an unexpected predicament. It is the very end of his autumn—a violent winter approaches and only a few mature, brown leaves are viewable, soon to depart from their source. Lear’s mouth is agape—trying to inhale understanding, trying to grasp what is happening. Against the wind, he is buying time, and remains defiant:

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! blow!

You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout

Till you have drenchedour steeples, drowned the cocks!

You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,

Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,

Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,

Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!

Crack nature's moulds, and germens spill at once,

That make ingrateful man! (3.2.)

     Popovic divides his image, placing a crumbling, tumbling crown and against a vacuum of darkness. Division has its consequences. The crown is no longer wearable. It is split into three jagged and uneven pieces–Lear’s concept of simple, clean and even distribution of his kingdom to his three daughters has gone terribly awry. Each third is incomplete—the visible parts of the crown cannot be re-assembled. 

     Unpredictable nature was also the subject of Michael Mayhew’s 1996 poster for the Royal Shakespeare Company is unique in his use of celestial symbolism (Figure 5).

Darkness, again, is used effectively in what first glance appears to be a solar eclipse. It is a fitting metaphor. Gloucester evokes the heavens when he too quickly and foolishly believes Edmund’s ruse against his legitimate, half-brother Edgar. “These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us.” Time changes everything and upsets the natural order. “Love cools, brothers divide and the bonds of father and son crack,” Gloucester says to his bastard son, Edmund (1.2.103).It is a tragic and prophetic statement.


Figure 5


     Solar eclipses were misunderstood in ancient times, frightening celestial phenomena in a natural world that, for the most part, had ordered and predictable cycles. Lear’s tragic story stops nature’s cycle in its tracks. Children appear to reject their parents, they do not reproduce, and die before their time. It is an unnatural end. Nature’s reliability should propel humanity into the future, but Lear erases that potential—neither he, nor Gloucester allow themselves to truly believe in their children.  Instead, they believe in omens,  superstitions and immature tests of love. Their own doubts and insecurities lead them to place their faith in false interpretations—eclipsing their ability to see what is behind temporary distractions.

     The image also resembles the orbit of a human eye. The glow from the light source is equally balanced internally and externally on a temporary fulcrum. But soon the balance will shift. Is the light trying to enter or is it trying to escape? Truth and insight always stay constant. What hides truth and obscures illumination is always temporary. Falsehood will pass. Patience yields to wisdom. The answer was always there for Lear and Gloucester to see, eclipsed only because they did not take the journey to search for it.

Foolish Minds and Vacant Stares

     The character of the Fool is an irresistible symbol to represent the play King Lear. Poster artists have used him (with apologies to female Fools) in various ways. It’s not surprising. The Fool is a perfect mouthpiece for the manifestation of human infallibility. The Fool embodies wisdom when the wise act foolishly. The same juxtaposition occurs with vision imagery. Lear is clear-eyed, but blinded to obvious truth. Gloucester’s blindness, violently imposed, is cathartic, allowing him to see “feelingly” and more clearly. Eventually, both men come to term with their loss of sanity and sight, but the revelations arrive tragically late. The path to realization is ushered by violent storms and horrific attacks. Reason and common sense did not come naturally for these men, they had to be smacked around—good sense had to be involuntarily imposed. So it makes sense that the Fool, Lear, and Gloucester are often combined or included in a singular image to represent the play. Together they manifest the loss of opportunities and the possibilities discovered too late.

     Artist Biddy Maroney created such an image for a 2007 Harlos production at the Biondi Pavilion in her native Australia. Seeing her raw image for the first time, without the play’s information overlay, it’s easy to assume the image might represent stage actor Antony Sher’s 1982 unconventional portrayal of the Fool as a circus or vaudevillian clown. Sher traded the coxcomb for a bowler hat and adapted the music hall guise to stress the “strangeness and differences from others” (Foakes 53-55). Maroney’s similarity to Sher’s Fool is complete coincidence. The Harlos production was set in feudal Japan with the actors wearing kimonos. Although familiar with the storyline of King Lear, especially the storm scene, Maroney, who had never seen or read the play, shared that she created her piece after being asked to design a poster based around, "a Charlie Chaplin tragic little clown, maybe with an umbrella holding over his head, a torn one." Maroney attempted to make the poster look European and the producers were pleased that her Fool wore what appeared to be a Japanese mask.


Figure 6


     Lear’s loyal, insightful Fool can see his master’s mistakes. It is interesting that Maroney, with limited knowledge of the play and only a producer’s suggestion to go by, created a Fool whose eyes are vacant and weeping. Her finished product demonstrates an instinctual understanding of what it means to be a fool, and what it means to see clearly. Maroney’s Fool is an empathabsorbing the pathos and surrounding emotions as nature uproots itself and rips away the humanity of his friends. He realizes that wisdom and insight will not reach their expected potential. Maroney positions the cane-like umbrella at the Fool’s neck, and perhaps this is just a clever artistic accident, but no one is holding the umbrella by its handle. During the Vaudeville era, canes were first used to yank performers off the stage. So this rendering is fitting. Something is holding the umbrella to his neck. The Fool is about to exit the stage and the rest of the play.

     The Fool is leaning against something or someone; the tufts of choppy white hair suggest it is Lear. His posture indicates tenderness and affection, his expression however, is one of regret and sorrow. He is wearing a red hat, the color of royalty, of life, of blood and love. The heart and head are in synch in this individual. He knows and feels the truth. His vacant eyes understand. His tears are not red, they are dark grey–they are tears of nothing because nothing is left. His mouth is closed in a small frown–a wordsmith no more.  His eyebrows are arched, implying awareness that cannot be articulated. Perhaps it is precisely that bleak awareness that causes the Fool to leave. He is wise enough to know his cause is lost and so, in the play, the Fool makes a silent exeunt.

     Using a similar, but more subdued color palate of grey and red, Ian Pollock’s rendition for a Oregon’s Lane Community College student production in 2007, (Figure 7), was derived from his 2006 Graphic Shakespeare Library’s Illustrated King Lear. According to the back notes of Pollack’s fully illustrated book, the “fabulous colors and eerie shapes help underscore the psychological drama of unmaking Lear the king, and making of Lear the man.”[1] Lane Community College credits Pollack’s art as inspiration for their production.



Figure 7


     Both cartoon-like and haunting, Lear is shown cowering in the midst of a raging storm. This Lear is not defiant. He is defeated. His hands are outstretched in a fearful, protective pose. Seeking protection within Lear’s tattered garments is a small Bozo-like figure peering out. The Fool wears an obvious, over-sized red clown nose. His hands, facing in a different direction than Lear’s, indicate he might not be fending off the elements, but rather saying adios! This is of course what the Fool, unceremoniously does at the end of Act 3, Scene 6. The image is reminiscent of the old Warner Brothers cartoon sendoff by Porky Pig who famously stuttered, “That’s all folks.”

     The co-mingling of Lear and the Fool’s identity continues in many theatrical posters. Actor Johnny Stallings, who has performed King Lear since 1978 to the present, commissioned his good friend, Portland artist Rick Barlow, to create posters for shows in the 1990s. In an e-mail interview, Stallings confessed that the blurring of Lear and the Fool was intentional,

These posters combine the image of king and Fool. In my production, I play all the parts, including Lear and Fool, so this design is especially appropriate to my version of the play. As for its relevance to the play, I’m sure that more than one critic has noticed that the Fool disappears from the play about the time that Lear is losing his mind. In a way, he is his own fool at the end (Stallings, interview).

Figure 8       
Figure 9


     In one image, Lear wears his crown, guffawing while wearing a red, strap-on clown nose. The other image, the crown has morphed into the Fool’s coxcomb. His face is more anguished as he completes his crossover into insanity – into the fullness of his reign as a fool.

     The 2005 poster for Baltimore’s Center Stage also suggests a fusing of characters, but places its emphasis on the metaphor of blindness (Figure 10).[2] Colors of blue-gray and red are predominate in the artwork. But the main subject is Lear wearing his crown. He has not yet removed it from his head, but he is already figuratively blind.

Figure 10

     Lear is gaunt and wrinkled. The storm, the disheveling harbinger of hair and mind, is on the horizon, but an internal storm has already caused serious damage. Lear’s eyes are gaping, oversized oval holes. Nothing occupies these cases. A blood tear emerges from one socket, staining his cheek and casting a slight shadow. He is as blind as Gloucester. Lear’s wide, almost closed and pink lips emit spittle of blood.

     Three front tips of Lear’s crown are dipped in blood- each representing the eventual undoing of Lear's daughters Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. His demands for a love test before divesting his kingdom among his daughters will have fatal consequences. 

     It is interesting that Lear’s nose, like his eye sockets, is noticeably oversized. Perhaps simply the artist’s stylization, but the shape, size and projection of the nose has a phallic structure.  Such imagery would not be out of place in a drama that examines progeny and the relationship between parent and child. Goneril, Regan and Edmund are preoccupied with their inheritance. Gloucester crows about Edmund’s illegitimate making, Edmund sees himself as a deserving, robust issue from a healthy romp in the hay and Lear himself saucily discounts the sin of adultery, and pays homage to the procreative urges of the natural world. There is an emission seeping from the rounded end of Lear’s nose.   To the right, and in the shadows, lurk two small blue-gray, sperm-shaped objects. Indeed, if the nose is meant to be a phallus, the last issue, as Cordelia was, remains very much attached.  Are the distant shadows Goneril and Regan? Written almost as an artist signature, in flesh tone, is the phrase Base Man.

     Nothing represents a base man quite as well as the human skeleton. Le Roi Lear, a 2008 Gold Medal award -winning poster by French artist Ronald Curchod, is one of the most haunting and disturbing representations of King Lear imagery (Figure 11). It represents the ‘polish school’ of graphic arts. “After World War II, Polish society gradually began to regard poster design as an art form equal in importance to painting” and “these posters used metaphoric imagery which demanded active participation” from the viewer (Polish). Every two years, posters from more than 50 countries enter the prestigious competition in Warsaw. Shakespearean editor R.A Foakes notes in his introduction to the Arden edition, that while there is no controlling perspective on how to interpret King Lear (107) modern sensibilities, particularly in European countries affected by World War II, view the play’s themes of human on human cruelty as poignant and relevant to their experiences of dealing with war’s destruction, threat of atomic attack and human cruelty exemplified by concentration camps.

Figure 11


     Superimposed over a pale, gaunt, pallid human likeness is a gaping skeletal cranium, dominated by round vacant dark orbs staring out to the audience. White against black, light against dark – the image is a jarring, stark ghost of something once human. The nasal cavity is the shape of a crown. The edges of the eye sockets are blurred – there is not a clearly defined transition between darkness and light. We look into the vestiges of an unfocused, directionless life and come away with unanswered questions. But as we pass by and examine this shadowy place, what looks back (and what does not) is a world that is painful to visit. The occupants of these dark hollows do not intend to entertain us with their story, instead they force us to examine terrible human choices, haunting realities that convey human anguish that teach lessons learned too late. If this kind of tragedy can happen within families, among associates and friends, then it can happen universally. This poster reminds that this indeed did happen in our recent history, and man at his very core his very base has yet to progress his understanding of the white and dark proportions of human nature. Man has yet to control the darker side and adjust a path toward future illumination – and the tragic missteps in King Lear illustrate a painful, dark, maze-like route.

     Although Gloucester is physically blinded, many characters in King Lear cannot see. Edmund is blinded by hatred and resentment. He rails against the injustice of his birth; on the cruel trick of chance nature dealt him. Lear and Gloucester suffer a fool’s blindness. Their parallel stories and too-easy alienation of their beloved children are irresistible to mix and meld in one provoking image.

Dividing the human spirit

    A final recurrent theme seen in Lear posters is division. King Lear begins with the decision to divide—he intends this divestiture to be a neat, orderly process. Instead, the act destroys the interpersonal relationships and tears the kingdom apart.

     New York artist Stefano Imbert produces all the theatrical posters for the Boomerang Theatre since 2004, known for their popular summer productions of Shakespeare. Imbert was familiar with King Lear, but felt the need to read it again for fresh inspiration before beginning his project for the 2006 season (Figure 12).


Figure 12

     “You never know what kind of hidden detail can help you visualize and compress the meaning of the play in one final image,” Imbert shared recently during an e-mail interview. Initially, Imbert envisioned a map of England torn in three, but after consulting with the show’s producers, he decided to place Lear in a business suit, which reflected the design choice of the off-Broadway production staging Lear as corporate tycoon. When Lear prematurely divides his kingdom, he tears apart his essence. The divisions are not clean. They are jagged tears. Torn into thirds, he is at the end of his days an incomplete man.  There is a redemptive quality to the image, however, the only poster to hint at salvation. Lear stands upon a precipice; the swirling colors of a storm appear to be lifting as he gazes into an illuminated vista below. But as we know, Lear comes to the realization too late.  The divisions he creates are deep, permanent and tragic. The physical laws of nature will prevail. This figure has no options but to crumble and fall.

     As with so many other images, it is tempting to show Lear and Gloucester’s plights as interchangeable. Gloucester’s working eyes fooled him. He chose to believe in surface truths just as Lear demanded superficial professions of love to make his decisions. Only after losing his eyes does Gloucester see the error in his judgment and he is haunted by thoughts of suicide. He wants to escape, and this image, dually serves to represent Gloucester’s despair at the end of a cliff.  So while Imbert had Lear singularly in mind, the image can apply to the parallel story of Gloucester and his desire to end his private hell.

     A map of England, torn into thirds, did eventually  make its way into a theatrical poster (Figure 13). The map that Lear majestically and ceremoniously rolls out during many stage and film productions is more than just a cartographical prop. A monarch and his country are intrinsically fused. When he orders a the map of his kingdom brought out and  parades his first two daughters around the portions he bestows, Lear is feasting in his personal drama and relishes the completion of his third scene with Cordelia[3]. But as audiences know all too well, Lear’s theatrics do not play out as expected. Everyone ends up with nothing. His divisions, meant as an endowment of love and loyalty, are instead gifts of destruction and eventual death.


Figure 13

     Irish artist Paddy O’Hanlon created the image for Dublin City University. Like  artist Biddy Maroney, O’Hanlon did not have any prior experience with the text or play in performance. After reading a synopsis of the work for his commission, and considering the preliminary wishes of the producers to somehow include a map, O’Hanlon decided that the divided map was the key image to feature, and intentionally chose the bleak colors. “I was criticized for making the poster too dark, but I felt that was the point,” O’Hanlon said. The torn map floats, lost in a sea of darkness. Lear’s blood-red words “Nothing comes out of nothing,” hover over the land, commanding center attention, sealing everyone’s fate. The design is simple and very effectivein its gloominess . It harkens to the tradition of vintage posters, providing the written information the theatergoer needs to know, but this modern variation does so by more than hinting at the horror about to unfold.

A window into modern sensibilities

     Speaking about Shakespeare and the modern audience, Dr. Robert Brustein, Shakespearean scholar and former dean of the Yale School of Drama, wrote, “The way in which Shakespeare is produced in each age, is an indication however unconscious, of how that age regards itself” (Loney 3).

     So, when we discover King Lear for the first time, via a high school assignment, steeped in scholarly study, or viewed as an occasional playgoer, we can’t help but relate to Lear’s disturbing life passage through our own individual prism and against our own perceptions of life and knowledge of history.  Foakes said it best, “That King Lear can elicit such conflicting interpretations is a testimony to both the play’s vitality and the immense range of possibilities it opens up" (2).

     The sampling of artistic interpretations selected for this review all succeed in distilling a complicated, written masterpiece into a singular image. They stand as evidence of the artistic talent, freedom and diversity of the modern individual. They testify to a willingness to examine classical themes and universal issue –and for the courage to delve into literary themes and social psyches.  There is no right or wrong way to experience Shakespeare –there is no correct or wrong process to contemplate what Lear has done and what we should take away from the experience of spending a few hours with him–however that may b –reading it curled up on a sofa or seeing it performed from a theatre seat. These posters offer us another opportunity to further explore the play’s complexities. Besides their function to invite us to an incredible drama, these poster-sized works of art vie for our attention, request that we pause and consider another point of view, and reflect upon the nature of human relationships that are presented. But in the end, the ownership of how we feel when King Lear enters our world is ours, and ours alone. 



[1] I was able to read the back jacket of this book by using preview technology from an online bookseller, Based on this preview, the entire play is illustrated in similar fashion. The entire play is laid out in comic book style, but the text of the play, with conversation balloons, is a complete version. 

[2] I was unable to obtain the name the artist for this poster.  Several e-mail attempts to contact production personnel went unanswered.

[3] With the rare exception of photo-call or production photo posters (most notably 1974 King Lear staring James Earl Jones) King Lear posters have not featured the major character of Cordelia. If she factors in at all, it is minimal and metaphorical (one third of torn map). Lear, Gloucester and the Fool trade their symbolism, but not the daughters, the most important of which is Cordelia. It is as if the artists have placed symbolic blame squarely on Lear, and Cordelia’s early, frank and blunt statements have been artistically absolved.

Works Cited


Artist Unknown (Base Man). King Lear. (Poster for Center Stage). 2005. <>

Bartow, Rick. King Lear (Two posters). Portland Oregon. 1990s, exact date unknown.  <> 

 Blok, Alexander.  Shakespeare's "King Lear": A Speech to the Actors. Trns. Daniel  
     Gerould. Educational Theatre Journal, Vol. 19, No. 3, Shakespearean Production
     (Oct., 1967), pp. 370-37

Brustein, Robert. “Shakespeare and the Modern Theatre.” Loney. 3-18  

Curchod, Ronald. Le Roi Lear. (Poster). 2008.  28 Oct. 2008.        <>  and also 


Foakes, F.A., ed. King Lear. By William Shakespeare. Arden Shakespeare ed. London:
          Thompson Learning, 2007

Houseman, John. “Shakespeare: Playwright and/or poet?” Loney. 57-83

 Imbert, Stefano. E-mail interview, 6 Jan. 2009

 Imbert, Stefano. King Lear. (Poster). 17 Nov. 2008,    <>

Loney, Glen, ed. Staging Shakespeare: Seminars on Production Problems. New York,
          Garland Publishing, 1990

Maroney, Biddy. E-mail interview, 6 Jan. 2009

Maroney, Biddy. King Lear. (Poster). 2007. 28 Nov. 2008     < biddy-maroney>

Mayhew, Michael. King Lear (poster). 1997. 6 Jan.2009     <>

 O’Hanlon, Paddy. E-mail interview, 9 Jan. 2009

 O’Hanlon, Paddy. King Lear. (Poster). 2004. 31 Dec. 2008      <> 

Oroz, Istvan. Lear Király (poster). 1999. 4 Nov. 2008         <>

 Polish Art Posters.  Web Author unknown.  5 January, 2009.     <>

 Pollock, Ian. King Lear. (Poster). 2007. 5 Nov. 2008 Lane Community College     <> 

Popovic, Dimitri Kralj Lear. (Poster). 1998. 14 Nov. 2008      <>  

Stallings, Johnny. E-mail interview, 2 Jan. 2009

 Wilding, Jo. E-mail interview, 5 Jan. 2009. User Services Librarian, Shakespeare
          Centre Library & Archive. Henley Street. Stratford-upon-Avon. 

Royal Shakespeare Company Archive. David Garrick’s 1756 Lear.  (Poster).      
          3 Jan. 2009. Courtesy of Jo Wilding.  

Royal Shakespeare Company Archive. Theatre Royal Edinburgh 1859. (Poster)
     3 Jan. 2009. Courtesy of Jo Wilding.

© 2009 Michele Walfred           Some MLA formatting was sacrificed in the interest of Web compatibility.

[1] I was able to read the back jacket of this book by using preview technology from an online bookseller, Based on this preview, the entire play is illustrated in similar fashion. The entire play is laid out in comic book style, but the text of the play, with conversation balloons, is a complete version.

[2] I was unable to obtain the name the artist for this poster.  Several e-mail attempts to contact production personnel went unanswered.

[3] With the rare exception of photo-call or production photo posters (most notably 1974 King Lear staring James Earl Jones) King Lear posters have not featured the major character of Cordelia. If she factors in at all, it is minimal and metaphorical (one third of torn map). Lear, Gloucester and the Fool trade their symbolism, but not the daughters, the most important of which is Cordelia. It is as if the artists have placed symbolic blame squarely on Lear, and Cordelia’s early, frank and blunt statements have been artistically absolved.