“All great literature has that ability to speak to audiences. Truly great literature can speak to many different audiences on many different levels. And I think that’s what this production accomplished,” said Miller.
Rebecca Robertson, president of the armory, says the 1,000 school children who will see the show in New York connect with the sibling rivalry and the tough times at Christmas time. After each show, the cast answers questions, furthering the enrichment.
“There is nothing like listening to students from East New York and these incredible actors from England both talking about the same subject. It doesn’t get better than that,” said Robertson. Her education team helps prepare the kids before the show and then follows-up by asking them to use another art form to express the themes they most connected to.
More than an hour into a dense “Lear,” the audience at the armory was still listening carefully. “Oooooo,” the children cried when Edmund kissed Regan shortly after puckering up with her sister, Goneril. “Which of them shall I take?” he asked the crowd, who vocally offered their thoughts. “Neither,” he finally decided.
O'Hanlon says that kissing scene often gets the most roars of disapproval from younger audiences, regardless of where they are in the world.
“It just makes me laugh so much that you can put a lot of horror on the stage, but kissing is the one thing that’s guaranteed to get the most extraordinary reaction,” she says.
Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits