'I will set my life upon a cast and I will stand the hazard of the dye'. Richard III
KEAN: 'There are moments in an actors life when one walks a fine line between the highest forms of art and expression- and total and utter chaos. Those years of tightrope walking in provincial theatres have helped me, I know, to keep my balance. But what if I should slip?'
The Dramatic Exploits of Edmund Kean is a riveting solo-performance which vividly portrays the life of one of the most extraordinary English actors from the Regency period. Edmund Kean ( 1787-1833), in a relatively short period, progressed from a life of abject poverty and deprivation as a strolling player walking, quite literally, from town to town to being hailed as one of the greatest actors and interpreters of Shakespeare the country has ever produced. He single-handedly saved The Theatre Royal Drury Lane from bankruptcy , bringing in profits of over £20,000 in his first season alone. It was Samuel Coleridge who famously stated that to see Kean act 'was like reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightening '. His fame took him twice to the United States and, at the height of his fame, he was commanding fees of over £50 per performance - a huge amount when one considers that the average yearly wage in 1820 was £30! A hardened drinker from his days as a provincial player, Kean increasingly misused alcohol fuelling his ever-more erratic behaviour on stage. The subject of an infamous court-case that saw Kean having to pay substantial damages to the husband of woman he was having an affair with, Kean quickly found the tide of public favour turning against him. He nonetheless continued to appear on stage but became something of a laughing -stock; infirm, physically broken, no longer able to remember his lines, he collapsed on stage at Covent Garden playing Othello to his son's Iago in 1833. He died a few weeks later in Richmond upon Thames leaving £600 in debts.
2010 - present
2010 - present
The Dramatic Exploits of Edmund Kean, both humorous and heart-breaking, is a celebration of the spirit of one of the most unique talents that British Theatre has ever produced.
The Dramatic Exploits of Edmund Kean premiered at The Other Place Theatre in Stratford upon Avon as part of a Royal Shakespeare Company Festival of New Writing.
Running time: 1hr 45 minutes including a 15 minute interval.