#ShakespearesPlaylist: King Lear

So I LOVE finding songs to fit the mood of #Shakespeare plays. Basically every time I hear a song I love on the radio, I think about how I could fit it into a production. I can’t help it. My brain just does that, which is funny, because I’ve only directed one production (my own one-act) and questioned myself and my abilities the entire time, so I don’t necessarily see myself directing anything else any time soon, but I just like to dream about the music anyway.

I’ve decided to play with this habit of mine more and make full-fledged Spotify and Youtube playlists for each play by Shakespeare, under the umbrella name and hashtag #ShakespearesPlaylist .

The incomparable Larry Yando as Lear in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production in 2014. Photo from  https://www.chicagoshakes.com/plays_and_events/lear

The incomparable Larry Yando as Lear in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production in 2014. Photo from https://www.chicagoshakes.com/plays_and_events/lear

Quick Summary from Wikipedia: King Lear is the tale of a king who bequeaths his power and land to two of his three daughters, after they declare their love for him in an extremely fawning and obsequious manner. His third daughter gets nothing, because she will not flatter him as her sisters had done. When he feels disrespected by the two daughters who now have his wealth and power, he becomes furious to the point of madness. He eventually becomes tenderly reconciled to his third daughter, just before tragedy strikes her and then the king.

I’m starting with King Lear because I just watched Kurosawa’s “Ran” with my husband, which is basically King Lear set in feudal Japan, so it’s on my brain anyway.

Here are a couple songs on my King Lear playlist. What would you add to this list? :D

Both Viva La Vida by Coldplay and Pompeii by Bastille fit King Lear’s “former leader watching his world crumble” theme, IMO.

Okay these two are a little more specific and require some explanation.

Frank Sinatra’s Where Do You Go? - I went to law school in Chicago and lived there for a few years after, so then-boyfriend/now-husband John and I went to a lot of shows at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. They have a great under-35 program that allows younger adults to get discount tickets and it was AWESOME.

In 2014, they did a friggin’ astounding version of King Lear that portrayed Lear as someone who really loved Frank Sinatra and used Sinatra’s music throughout the play to illustrate his growing madness. This specific obscure Sinatra song was used to illustrate how lost and alone Lear was and was mixed and looped to show his growing distortion. Right before the intermission, this one house set that had been standing up the whole time came toppling down over the actor playing Lear, who stood in just the one hole for the window so he wasn’t actually crushed, with rain and thunder and this haunting song in the background.

So clearly it made an impression. I definitely think of Sinatra whenever I think of Lear now.

Ravel’s Bolero is my pet choice and something I would include if I ever had the opportunity to direct Lear in the future. There was an amazing Radiolab episode a while back which discussed how the repetition in Bolero and in one woman’s paintings were a strong symptom of their own mental illnesses. It fascinated me and ever since, I have wanted to use Bolero as a metaphor for Lear’s madness.

What obvious songs am I overlooking? Do you have any choices that might seem odd without further explanation? I want to hear them all! Use the hashtag #ShakespearesPlaylist to get them to me. :)