Staged with an all‑aboriginal cast, the 2012 production of William Shakespeare’s King Lear at Canada’s National Arts Centre creatively reimagined the play in a frontier New World setting. Directed by Peter Hinton, and starring August Schellenberg (Mohawk) as Lear, the production placed Shakespeare’s drama in seventeenth‑century Canada, amongst a group of Algonquin people on the outer edge of European colonialism and cultural contact. The idea for this resetting of the play originated with August Schellenberg—some 45 years ago—who thought that Lear would be particularly adaptable to an indigenous / First Nations setting. That it took nearly half a century to realize that vision says much about the difficulty of getting mainstream audiences and theater companies to consider the inclusion of indigenous peoples in cultural activities outside of often stereotyped and limited representational roles. By placing an all‑aboriginal cast on stage at the National Arts Centre in the capital city of Ottawa, this unique production of King Lear intervened in a cultural discourse that has marginalized and excluded indigenous voices from the national arts scene.
Any reference to or quotation from this article should be cited as follows: Johnson, Michael K. “Indigenizing King Lear.” Western Writers Online October 2013. 4 pp. http://scholarworks.boisestate.edu/wwo/3/. Accessed [your date of access].