LEAR: A Retrospective

Philip McKee + Clare Coulter


Created with Rose Plotek

About the Performance

Co-produced by Harbourfront Centre

Between 2011 and 2014, Canadian theatre legend Clare Coulter performed the role of Shakespeare’s King Lear three times. Each time she was directed by Philip McKee, and each time both of them thought it would be the last; because, in their effort to tell King Lear’s story of generational inequality, of the struggle to both give and receive a legacy, they ended up living it instead.

Intimate, sculptural, and immediate, the original production of LEAR was developed through Harbourfront Centre’s HATCH performance residency program and premiered at World Stage 2013. LEAR: A Retrospective propels the improbable collaboration of this work into a new form. It is a performance that attempts to examine conflicts without succumbing to them, one that escapes the orbit of Shakespeare by using attachment theory and autobiography in an intergenerational dialogue about what is most inevitable.

Relaxed-Performance-icon-copyrelaxed performance of this production will take place on April 9 at 2pm.

About Clare Coulter


Clare Coulter has performed in theatres across Canada, notably at Toronto’s Tarragon under the direction of Bill Glassco and his successor Urjo Kareda. She was a member of the Toronto Free Theatre in its initial season and performed in the collective productions of Paul Thompson at Theatre Passe Muraille circa 1970. Her collaboration with Philip McKee began at the National Theatre School. Productions were: When We Dead Awaken, Far Away, and La Voix Humaine. She performs in Quebec filmmaker Luc Picard’s Les Rois Mongols, to be released this year.

About Rose Plotek


Rose Plotek is theatre maker and director. She is associate director of the Directing Program at the National Theatre School of Canada. Her work is often developed through interdisciplinary collaboration and workshop, most frequently with Philip McKee. Recent credits: Performance About A Woman, created with Liz Peterson (Tiger Dublin Fringe / SummerWorks Performance Festival); Like Mother, Like Daughter, created with Ravi Jain (Why Not Theatre, Toronto – Complicite,London, UK); Bloody Family (Theatre Centre); LEAR (World Stage/Magnetic North)

About Philip McKee


Philip McKee is a Toronto based director and writer. He collaborates with other artists to create original performance work that is subversive, intimate and vital. Work in the theatre includes: The Glass Menagerie (Howland Company); Bloody Family (The Theatre Centre); LEAR (World Stage, Harbourfront Centre/Magnetic North); King Doubt (SummerWorks); Founders Day Party (Suburban Beast); Old Hag (Tanztage/Sophiensaele); Brothers (SummerWorks). Philip frequently co-directs with Rose Plotek. Philip is a graduate of The National Theatre School of Canada, where he is now an instructor for their Acting and Directing Programs. Philip is the 16/17 Urjo Kareda Artist-in-Residence at Tarragon Theatre.


About Holger Schoorl

Sound Designer

Holger Schoorl has been making music in Toronto since 2007 when he moved there to pursue graduate studies in composition at York University.  Since then he has been writing music for chamber ensembles, performing as a free improvisor, some time singer songwriter, composing music for theatre, dance, and film.  Recent work includes presenting a concert of his own work on the occasion of his fortieth birthday, composing and performing music for The Supine Cobbler, a theatre piece written and directed by Jill Connell, film and dance collaborations with Phil McKee, and a piece for Rob MacDonald for guitar, flute and percussion.


LEAR: A Retrospective – Pre-show Tea

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 – 7pm

For our pre-show tea event preceding Lear: A Retrospective, Scholar-in-Residence Matt Sergi will be joined by an exciting special guest: renowned Shakespeare scholar Holger Syme, whose controversial online remarks about King Lear erupted into a much-publicized war of words last year. Rather than lecture, the two early drama scholars will challenge the World Stage audience to join them in a game of “Scholar’s Advocate” — in which we try to counter every positive statement with a fair argument to the contrary. If we all play it right, then everything we think we know about being faithful to an authentic Shakespeare text, and about what it means to perform or witness King Lear in 2017, should get duly shaken up.

LEAR: A Retrospective – Talkshow

Thursday, April 6, 2017 – After the show

Following this evening’s performance, connect with the artists as they field your questions and discuss the work you’ve just seen. It’s the most direct behind-the-scenes access you can get. Admission is free with the purchase of your ticket.

Hosted by Clyde Wagner

Clyde Wagner is the President and CEO of Civic Theatres Toronto. His experience includes: Senior Producer, Park Avenue Armory; Executive Producer Luminato; Partner in PVW; Founder for Sweet Caesar Inc.; Associate creative director for eLUXURY.com.