PRODUCTION: Contemporary Legend Theatre (Taiwan)

August 29, 2023  9 p.m. – Teatro Camploy

Wu Hsing-kuo’s King Lear presents a brilliant fusion of tradition and avant-garde, East and West, and operatic and physical theatre. In this solo production, Wu employs jingju, modern dance, original music, and Eastern philosophy, disrupting Shakespeare’s linear plotlines and interweaving his own artistic experience.

King Lear is the first production after the revival of the Contemporary Legend Theatre in 2001. Wu plays 10 different characters, from the main male role, to the female role, to the painted face male role, and to the clown in 100 minutes. Within the framework of the modern theater, Wu’s character changing challenges the limit of the performing art. In a despair, he repeatedly asks ‘Who am I’? and finds himself in the stubborn Lear, the blind Gloucester, the discontented Edmund, the ungrateful Regan and Goneril, the unjustly wronged Edgar and Cordelia, and the cynical but wise Fool. In this heart-wrenching tragedy, no one is completely innocent. In the end, Wu’s Buddhist realization of emptiness leads not to nihilism but to humility and boundless compassion, leaving the audience much food for thought.

Wu Hsing-kuo is the artistic director of the Contemporary Legend Theatre (CLT) and a holistic performing artist traversing across the fields of traditional Chinese theatre, modern theatre, dance, opera, film, television, and multimedia. His works have been performed and screened worldwide, winning him multiple awards and honors including the Hong Kong Film Award (1994), the National Award for Arts (2010), the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres-Chevalier (2011), and the Grand Cordon Order of Brilliant Star (2015). He is best known internationally for his intercultural reworkings of Western classics including Shakespeare, Greek tragedy, Beckett, Chekhov, Goethe, and Kafka.