A Royal Success

Throughout 2016 we have had the absolute pleasure of working on the multi-platform release of King Lear: The Film for digital arts commissioning body The Space. Captured at the Royal Exchange Theatre, a co-production with Talawa Theatre Company, where it played to sell-out crowds, the production was critically acclaimed, with the Guardian calling it ‘as close to definitive as can be’, so, as you can imagine, we were super excited to be on board.

Award-winning actor Don Warrington has been highly praised for his brutal and powerful portrayal of King Lear, which resonates particularly as the UK’s awareness of the impact of Dementia on family bonds and decision-making grows. The film has already seen support from the downright lovely folk at Dementia UK, Alzheimer’s Society and Lewy Body Society who ran news stories and engaged with us on social media.

Meanwhile the casting of King Lear’s family as black reminded us that the presence and influence of black people is potentially un-documented in our ancient history. The casting also addresses the debate about the lack of availability of roles for black actors in the UK; we were able to ignite a discussion about diversity in the industry, with titles such as Digital Spy and the Metro as platforms.

There were three exciting stages of release for King Lear. First off, the film was made available to everyone with access to the internet on BBC iPlayer as part of a series called Shakespeare Lives – in the digital age. We wanted to spread the word to as many people as possible that Lear was stream-able, and we were able to support the launch with a huge spread of press coverage including the Daily Mail, BBC News and the Stage.

King Lear: The Film then went on tour. It was shown at thirteen cinemas across the country, all completely free to encourage students to attend. We hit the regional press to let the locals know and managed to secure 43 regional pieces of coverage.

At 7pm on Christmas Day, King Lear added a generous slice of culture into the mix on BBC Four. We sat back, digested our excessive amounts of turkey and looked on with immense pride as our ‘Pick of the Day’, in many leading national publications, yet again took centre stage.

Deservedly, the interest in King Lear: The Film increased across all three stages of its release, with the screening previewed in titles such as Sunday Times: Culture, Daily Telegraph, i, Financial Times, Sunday Express, Daily Mail, What’s on TV, Total TV Guide and the Times.

We are so happy to say that we are continuing to work with the Space in 2017; keep a lookout for the specifics… ‘cos they be comin’ to ya on the fly.

Tom x

(Images: Jonathan Keenan)


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