QueenʼsMen Editions

About this text

  • Title: King Leir
  • Author: Peter Cockett

  • Copyright Queen's Men Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Peter Cockett
    Peer Reviewed

    King Leir

    King Leir, Scene 26

    Mumford: Alon Nashman
    Gallia: Paul Hopkins
    Cordella: Julian DeZotti
    King Leir: Don Allison

    Queen's Men Stage Directions (Sc. 26)

    175Read about Queen's Men stage directions in Scene 24

    At the outset of the SQM rehearsal process the company was composed of 12 actors rather than our target of 16, and this left us a little short for Scene 26. The stage direction asks for an army but we could not muster a single soldier, due to the cast's involvement in the previous and following scenes. Our solution was to have the king and Mumford address the audience as the army. While the SQM actors spoke to the audience throughout the productions, they did not cast the audience in a role in this manner and this scene always felt a little awkward to me for that reason.

    In relation to an imagined original performance, it would have been counterproductive to cast the English audience as an army of Frenchmen. The humour of Mumford's punning on "Gaul" and "gall" (TLN 2421-6) would have worked better if addressed to a clump of hired men dressed to represent the Gallian army.

    The following battle sequence operates much like parallel editing operates in film: it alternates between one side and the other until the climactic stage fight. Location shifts fluidly in the imaginations of the audience as the two sides enter and exit the stage until a final climax "somewhere" on the coast of England. Without the restrictions of representational sets, the Queen's Men were able to tell historical and romantic tales in which the audience traveled across vast distances. The pioneering work of the company with history plays and romances laid the ground for the style and conventions of the London professional theatres.

    Read more about Queen's Men stage directions

    Performing Mumford (Sc. 26)

    Read about performing Mumford in Scene 21

    Alon brought great energy to this scene, reveling in the puns and the gruesome nickname "Redshanks" (TLN 2419). While the casting cannot be proved, there is something fun about imagining Tarlton, the great English clown, playing this rabble-rousing Frenchman. Mumford remains a comic character but also must be believable as a valued lieutenant to the Gallian king. Tarlton's skill as a master of fence would make him a strong candidate to play this comic soldier.

    Read more about performing Mumford

    Performing Gallia (Sc. 26)

    Read about performing Gallia in Scene 21

    As the SQM production process progressed Paul Hopkins became an increasingly engaging prince. As with all the actors in the SQM company work done on other plays fed back into Leir. Paul also played Henry V in Famous Victories and learned to carry that play on the strength of his energy and charisma, and the ability to act as driving force for the action of the play transferred to this section of Leir in which Gallia becomes the principle agent. Paul noticed the connection between his characters in this scene where Gallia commits to march "step-by-step" with the soldiers at the forefront of the battle.

    Watch video of Scene 26 on the Performing the Queen's Men website. (The video footage is password protected. Click on "Cancel" in the pop-up window to obtain password.)