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Four hundred years since his death, and Shakespeare is still the world’s most in-demand playwright.

The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester and Talawa - one of the most successful Black theatre companies in the UK - brought a brand new staging of King Lear, starring Don Warrington, firstly to the stage and then to the screen. In Talawa’s 30th and the Exchange's 40th anniversary year both companies celebrated the enduring power of Shakespeare with a critically acclaimed production, developed in association with Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

Rakie Ayola and Debbie Korley in King Lear

In an ancient Britain bound by loyalty to the clan and the power of the sword, King Lear decides to give up his crown. As he divides the kingdom between his daughters, family ties disintegrate, order disappears and the land slides into chaos.

The Royal Exchange and Talawa joined forces with The Space to capture this epic play for online broadcast, enabling people from across the UK, and internationally, to experience the stage production which stunned audiences in Manchester and Birmingham this spring. 

Filmed in the round at the Royal Exchange Theatre the recording took audiences closer than ever to the family feuds, passionate loyalty and the brutality of an unravelling mind. Don Warrington’s ‘Lear combinesd a compulsive self-destructive streak with a heart-breaking self-awareness’ (Telegraph) in one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies.

Broadcast on BBC Four on Christmas Day, the production was available on-demand through the BBC in the UK and internationally as part of the BBC/British Council Shakespeare Lives digital festival for three months and the production was previously available free to view on BBC iPlayer.

The film was seen at a number of cinemas across the UK during Black History Month:

City Hall London – 14th October, 5pm
Liverpool Showcase Cinema – 19th October, 12pm
Winnersh Showcase Cinema – 19th October, 12pm
Birstall Showcase Cinema – 19th October, 12pm
Bristol Avon Meads Showcase Cinema – 19th October, 12pm
Walsall Showcase Cinema – 19th and 20th October, 12pm
Goldsmiths Curzon London 19th, 5pm
Keele University 19th  October 6 45pm
Derby Quad Cinema – 21st October, 12pm
Birmingham MAC Cinema – 21st October, 12pm
Home,  Manchester 26th October 26th  12 30pm
Nottingham Broadway cinema 2nd November 12 pm
Warwick Arts Centre. University of Warwick, Coventry 24th November 10 am

King Lear was also shortlisted for the Royal Television Society North's Award for Best Use of Multi Platform

About this Artist

King Lear is a Royal Exchange Theatre and Talawa Theatre Company co-production in association with Birmingham Repertory Theatre. It appeared on stage at The Royal Exchange from 1 April – 7 May 2016 and Birmingham Rep from 16 – 28 May 2016.

Talawa Theatre Company
Talawa is one of the UK’s most successful Black-led theatre companies. It creates outstanding work with the best Black artists.

The Royal Exchange
The Royal Exchange Theatre is Regional Theatre of the Year 2016 (The Stage). Based in the heart of Manchester it produces an ambitious programme of work which aims to reflect and speak to the most diverse audiences in Manchester and beyond.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre
The REP inspires a lifelong love of theatre. It makes and tours original productions and presents more than 60 shows a year.

Project Partners

Talawa logo Royal Exchange Theatre Logo