King Lear 25/10/2019

International Committee Program

King Lear


National Old theatre in Krakow (Poland, Krakow)
William Shakespeare. Polish translation — Leon Ulrih
1 hour and 40 minutes. The performance runs without intermission
19 December, 2014
The language of performance:

In Jan Klata's performance, King Lear is no longer a father dividing the kingdom between his daughters. The action shifts to the Vatican dungeons, where Lear is the Pope handing over the reins of power to other church hierarchs. "It might have been love rhetoric of the first scene – the scene of dividing the kingdom, which is so close to favorite subjects of sermons – that prompted Klata to stage "Lear in the Vatican". However, further delving into the subject has revealed much more. Perhaps, moving the setting to the church Klata just groped for the remainder of the "chain of being" a medieval person had belonged to (though it was a great deal actually); he resurrected the significant relations that are usually either perceived abstractly or replaced with absolutely different relations nowadays. The hierarchy of a "church family" turned out to be much closer to the Shakespearian spirit than just a hierarchy of power through which Shakespeare's works are usually perceived", - this is what Natalya Yakubova wrote in Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

With this performance Klata raises fundamental questions about human power in this world, a possibility of abdicate the throne gifted by the grace of God, and the spiritual dimension of hierarch's death.

Jerzy Gralek (June 23, 1946 – February 15, 2016), an outstanding actor of the Polish theatre, who performed the role of King Lear, passed away In February 2016 Since that time, the performance has been presented in an altered form, using the recorded scenes with Jerzy Gralek. "Camera is on throughout the performance. The digitally processed images are projected on the rear wall of the stage. Lear, a prisoner in a glass cage, slowly losing his mind, looks up at the sky. What drives him? An urge for forgiveness? The solitude and despair of a man on the verge of a breakdown? Perhaps a little of all these things?" A radical and tragic change of structure of the action added a new, even more symbolic dimension to the philosophy of the performance.

Jan Klata's King Lear is a deep and very humane reflection on age and death.

The performance was presented in the Theatre Section of the Venice Biennale in 2016.




Krzysztof Zawadzki


Bartosz Bielenia


Roman Gancarczyk


Jacek Romanowski


Jaśmina Polak

Cordelia / Fool

Jerzy Gralek

Lear (appearing in the video)

Bogdan Brzyski


Zygmunt Józefczak


Radosław Krzyżowski


Jan Klata
Set design, costumes, lighting
Justyna Łagowska
James Leyland Kirby (The Caretaker)
Maćko Prusak
Assistant Set Designer
Katarzyna Jeznach
Stage manager / Prompter / Assistant Director
Iwona Gołębiowska