King Lear

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On Mayday 1974, a remarkable and totally unforeseen set of circumstances led Steven from an Anarchist/Communist street riot in Nancy, Northern France, to Bergamo in Italy. Completely exhausted as the train rolled into the Bergamo station, Steven looked out of the window and saw a poster for friend/colleague Eugenio Barba's show Min Fars Hus (My Father's House) playing at Teatro Tasbaile that week.

Steven climbed the hill to the old city and walked into the theatre to be warmly greeted by Leif and Eugenio. They insisted that he see the show and spend some time feasting after. For Steven, it was the finest theatre work he had ever seen and Elsa Marie Laukvik was the finest actress he had seen in any physical theatre production on the planet.

After the show, Steven and Eugenio went to talk at the feast. The talking went deep into the night. Steven was becoming perplexed that his work was becoming formulaic and Eugenio was urging him to throw away every successful mechanic in his director's arsenal. Steven resisted and after many long hours the two embraced and parted. Steven walked the dark streets looking for a hotel for hours. It all felt like a dream. The darkness was thick and dogs on chains all over the place would come hurtling out of the dark shooing Steven on. There was a red light district with ancient whores in blonde wigs and powdered make-up next to strange creatures who served as Fellini styled pimps that watched from the shadows. Steven found an expensive hotel that was open for business so he could crash.

The next day, Steven woke up with the whole of King Lear mapped out in his head. None of the tricks or mechanics that his Triple Action fans loved were a part of it. Not a single light would be used; matches and candles only. The theme of man versus nature was the key to Steven's adaptation. Nature was the darkness of the previous night and a frail flame became the character's only defense against what came with the darkness. He called London from the hotel and asked them to get the cast together for his return in three days. King Lear toured as King Lear or Lier Blindi for three years to 18 countries and was adapted into Steven's first feature film in a much transformed state. Both play and film were award winners.

Lear, in the stage production, was played by Nigel Watson who had starred in Triple Action productions for almost five years. He had played Richard II, Hamlet and Richard III as well as Mephostophilis. This was to be one of the of the most significant turning points in Steven's creative development for both stage and film. He always credited Eugenio Barba's inspiration for the play.