Sepia Saturday 199: All Hallows’ and King Lear


sepia sat 199This week’s Sepia Saturday theme is largely theatrical, or as Alan puts it “the desire to dress up, lark around in public, utter words that you would not normally recognise”. My photo this week seems to perfectly capture this though I admit it was those rather strange beards and hair the prompted my thoughts first.

When I was in high school it was traditional for my all-girls school to stage a production of the Shakespeare play which was out set text for our Year 12 exams and in our year the play was King Lear. Naturally if you’re in a girls-only school the male roles have to be played by girls, and of course you would first target those with a suitably male altitude. This is how I first found myself cast in the role as King Lear….a very short experience as it was deemed (entirely correctly!) that my aptitude for such a pivotal was deficient. I must say I remember being rather relieved and was happily replaced as Lear by a friend, of similar altitude but much greater aptitude.

The King of France, All Hallows' production of King Lear.

The King of France, All Hallows’ production of King Lear.

Soon after I found myself demoted to play the character of King of France, who marries Lear’s just-disinherited daughter Cordelia. Such is the long-term impact of the play that I no longer recall any of “my” words but I found this speech by France which I rather like:

Is it but this,–a tardiness in nature
Which often leaves the history unspoke
That it intends to do? My lord of Burgundy,
What say you to the lady? Love’s not love
When it is mingled with regards that stand
Aloof from the entire point. Will you have her?
She is herself a dowry.

Perhaps we should only read Shakespeare when we’re older and can better understand the messages that are being declared. And, for the record, this play was my first and last venture into the theatre as a performer, rather than an attendee.

I have a photograph of the whole cast, but as I pondered the copyright issues, and the privacy issues of those who could be easily recognised, I discovered a way out of my dilemma. On the school’s website is the same photo of the cast (click and look at King Lear 1965 in black and white)…check it out…it has some pretty impressive beard and hairstyles happening, not to mention the clothes. It would be accurate to say this was an amateur production, but trust me, there were no lapsed standards permitted.

As I recall all the theatre activities were performed by “girls” from our year from art work to lighting and back of stage, though I think the costumes mostly came from the school’s stash, no doubt acquired over the decades. I can tell you, though, that my glorious jewels were entirely my own, and my silver chain of office was part of a belt my mother had worn, and indeed that back in those skinny days I could wear…I still own a few links of it, just for the memories.

Also among my personal memorabilia is a copy of the booklet for the play and on the back are the signatures of my friends and other characters. I’d love to include a copy of that booklet….if I only knew where it had migrated to. I need a better system for scanning then re-storing things to their rightful place.

Have a look at the links on this week’s theme to see how other Sepians have approached the topic. And now I have to consider whether I have a previous Sepian post which would merit being put forward to next week’s historic Sepian 200th post.

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10 thoughts on “Sepia Saturday 199: All Hallows’ and King Lear

  1. “Nair” shall I look at you the same again :-) I loved acting… guess that doesn’t surprise you. One day, over that much awaited cuppa, I might tell you about some of it…

  2. Good Lord, Lear is a hefty play for anyone and even the most accomplished actors don’t take it in lightly, whatever was an all-girls school doing staging it? Well done to you all. It’s nice that you have the programme and autograph too.

    • I did go to a rather obsessive school which thought plays like Lear were a doddle Little Nell ;-0

      Maybe that program will now turn up -things usually do when you stop the hunt I find.

  3. I’m surprised your school didn’t take on some of Shakespeare’s lighter tales. Then again, when I was in the 12th grade our English class studied “Macbeth”. We didn’t go onstage with a production of it, but formed groups to perform assigned scenes each day in front of the class. Funny thing about that – everyone in the class got either an “A” or a “B” on the final exam!

    • I think it would be a toss-up between Macbeth and Lear, but Lear was out set text for Year 12 while Macbeth was my husband’s the year before. Those teachers knew something didn’t they given you all got good marks ;-)

  4. Wow, what an amazing production, and not very common for such talent. You certainly have the memories to treasure here, lucky you. Luck to everyone involved.

  5. I was a gathering several years ago where people brought along photos of themselves that were all stuck up on a board. The intention was that people were to match the photos to the people now. Some shots were easy, but others had people confused. I would love to see this shot of you at such a gathering. The gender bending king from yore.

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