‘King Lear': Imogen Knight on the Movement in Language

BY Almeida Theatre   October 2, 2012

In a play with nearly two dozen characters and repeated references to the weather, physicality is a key consideration for the cast and creative team. We caught up with Movement Director Imogen Knight to discuss her role in shaping how the characters in an epic tragedy inhabit their world.

What’s your relationship to the Almeida?

I was assistant to the director on Marianne Dreams in 2007; before that I did quite a lot for Almeida Projects. Then I did Movement for When the Rain Stops Falling with Mike [Artistic Director Michael Attenborough], then Measure for Measure with Mike, then Filumena… also with Mike.

How did you get into Movement?

I trained as a contemporary dancer, and the main jobs I did were in physical theatre companies, where there’s quite a lot of devising, for which movement goes hand-in-hand. That really sparked me into being able to create for myself.

I don’t do any one type of Movement particularly; I like lots of variety.

What interests you about King Lear?

I did Lear at A Level, and I was transfixed by the story. The language in the play is so brilliant, the relationships are so complex – they don’t age. Lear is my favourite Shakespeare. It is so powerful and tragic. I was over the moon when Mike asked me to work on it.

Does this project feel similar to anything you’ve done in the past?

No, especially not the last two shows with Mike (Measure for Measure and When the Rain Stops Falling). The main thing is you need to hear the words, the story. The language is poetic; it has so much movement in it already that my involvement was minimal and economic.

How would you describe King Lear to someone who hasn’t seen it?

There are so many references to nature, and questions of what is natural. It’s about the human condition. It’s about love, the ego and being able to see and truly feel what is real.