Glenda Jackson to play Shakespeare’s ageing King Lear

Joe Williams February 12, 2016
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Oscar-winning actress Glenda Jackson has revealed she is to play King Lear.

Glenda Jackson will make a long-awaited return to the theatre after an absence of more than a quarter of a century later this year.

The double Academy award winner will take to the stage of the Old Vic theatre in October to play classic Shakespeare character King Lear.

Glenda Jackson to play Shakespeare’s ageing King Lear

Jackson said she was excited to be tackling the Bard’s most challenging work – especially as it is a role often played by a man.

The play’s director Deborah Warner said rehearsals for the production will start in August.

“It is very exciting – biblical, really,” she told the Daily Mail.

“Who else has done that? Who else has done that in any art, in any medium?

During her time offstage, Jackson carved out a successful career as a Labour politician.

She was elected to represent Hampstead and Kilburn in North London in 1992 – a position she held until she stepped down at last May’s election.

However, Jackson is not the first leading lady to take on a major male Shakespearean roles.

Vanessa Redgrave played Prospero in The Tempest, with Fiona Shaw and Cate Blanchett both playing Richard II.

Kathryn Hunter has played both Lear and Richard III and Frances de la Tour and Maxine Peake have both tread the boards as Hamlet.

Of course, cross-dressing in Shakespeare would definitely be nothing new – originally women were not allowed to perform on stage, meaning that all female roles were originally played by men.

Glenda Jackson to play Shakespeare’s ageing King Lear

In January, the new head of the iconic Shakespeare’s Globe theatre pledged to continue the tradition of “bending gender” – by bringing in more cross-dressing roles for women.

As well as pledging to bring Shakespeare to the modern masses, Emma Rice said she would also work to bolster the role of women.

Earlier this month, Amazon announced plan to release a new audiobook which puts a gay spin on one of the world’s most famous love stories.

The retail giant’s audiobook wing, Audible Originals, has unveiled a re-telling of Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet – updating it for a modern audience.

Related topics: Labour, Shakespeare

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