Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lear-Related Youth Group Activity

King Lear. Dir. Michael Elliott. Perf. Laurence Olivier, Colin Blakely, John Hurt, Diana Rigg, and Leo McKern. 1983. DVD. Kultur Video, 2000.
Although it may not originally have come from Lear, a youth-group activity I witnessed many years ago seems to have an extraordinary number of parallels with Edgar's journey with his father in IV.vii.

Here's the activity. You choose someone to stand on a plank on the ground. Then two strong guys lift the plank and set it on a table. You ask the person to jump off the plank. The person jumps. No trouble.

Then you put the same person on the plank—blindfolded this time. Then two strong guys lift the plank and set it back down on the ground or on a couple of cinder blocks. The person is very close to the ground, but he or she thinks he or she is a table's distance from the ground. You ask the person to jump off the plank. After some hesitation and soul-searching and shouts of encouragement from the group, the person jumps and is surprised when they find the ground much closer than they thought it was. Everyone laughs and a lesson is learned.

I don't exactly remember what lesson, but it must have been the same as or similar to the lesson Gloucester learns in IV.vii of King Lear. Here's a version of the scene (from the Olivier version):

Links: The film at IMDB.

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Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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