King Lear Story

Institute History

  • 1988 Directors Lab


This is the story of a man who moves from an explored life of great worldly power to a deeply-felt private existence. The odyssey begins shortly after he learns, in the mid-fifties, that his life is threatened by ill-health and the strenuous demands of his position. He decides to get out, to divest himself of the controlling interests in his multi-national corporation which has taken most of his time for more than thirty years.

The story draws its themes from Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” focusing on a father and the three grown daughters who become his heirs during his lifetime. This is an acutely contemporary struggle of a man who discovers too late that the children he abandoned in pursuit of power will now take their revenge.

The two older daughters are children of a first marriage. They use their new power swiftly. One challenges her father head-on, behaving as he would have behaved himself at another time in his own career. She’s been well-trained in making hard, heartless business decisions. The second daughter has learned to manipulate and her style of power is devious, indirectly exercised through her husband. These two are formidable women—a la Eve Carrington in ALL ABOUT EVE—and together they bring their father to his knees and set about violating the kingdom he’s created. They’ve become unmistakable creatures of his hand, their greed sadly reflecting the insatiable appetites of deprived children.

The third and youngest daughter was born to deeply loved second wife who left her husband when ambition became his consuming passion. Here is the soft core of our hero’s life. It is through awakening the buried love and loyalty of his youngest daughter that he finds redemption. With the unraveling of the world to which he’d dedicated his life, our man is forced to review the values he has lived by. The question of whether wisdom comes too late remains for the audience to decide.


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