Hot on the heels of Complicite’s A Disappearing Number, screened on 14 October 2010, King Lear will be beamed out via NT Live on 3 February 2011, one of the final performances at the Donmar’s 250-seat home base. After the London season, running from 7 December (previews from 3 December) to 5 February, the production, helmed by artistic director Michael Grandage, will tour the UK for eight weeks, visiting Llandudno, Belfast, Glasgow, Milton Keynes, Salford, Richmond, Bath and Truro, where it concludes on 16 April 2011.
Grandage said in a statement that the expansions are “born of a desire to share our work with as many people as possible” and, more particularly in this case, a belief that “Derek Jacobi’s King Lear will be an event that deserves to be seen beyond the Donmar Warehouse”.
He continued: “It means a Donmar production featuring one of our finest Shakespearean actors will be available to more people than we could ever hold in our Covent Garden home. I am proud to be teaming up with the National Theatre to broadcast King Lear and excited by the opportunities that it will present to us.”
Several other principals of the King Lear cast were also announced today. Gina McKee, Justine Mitchell and Pippa Bennett-Warner will play Lear’s daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia; Ron Cook plays the Fool, with Paul Jesson as the Earl of Gloucester and Michael Hadley as the Earl of Kent.
Cook, Hadley, Jesson and McKee – like Derek Jacobi – are all Donmar alumni. Cook appeared in Grandage’s last two Shakespeares, both in the Donmar West End season at Wyndham’s, the Jude Law-led Hamlet (also on Broadway) and Twelfth Night (for which Jacobi, as Malvolio, won Olivier and Critics’ Circle Awards) as well as Helpless, Juno and the Paycock and Glengarry Glen Ross at the Donmar itself.
Amongst other Donmar credits, Hadley appeared in Piaf, Jesson in Twelfth Night (Sam Mendes’ production) and Mary Stuart) and McKee in Ivanov (Donmar West End) and Old Times.
In addition to Twelfth Night, Michael Grandage has previously directed Jacobi in The Tempest and Don Carlos, both of which transferred to the West End following runs at Sheffield Crucible. Last week he made his National Theatre debut with a new production of Buchner’s Danton’s Death, starring Toby Stephens, as part of this year’s Travelex £10 Tickets season in the NT Olivier.