Michael Lear: Part Two
By Michael Moriarty
Most ironically, I didn't see Paul Scofield at Stratford, Ontario, as King Lear. I experienced his divinely portrayed version of Don Adriano de Armado in Love's Labors Lost.
I knew the play intimately. I had portrayed its love-losing, foolish King of Navarre earlier that summer in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival at Boulder.
Then, later that summer, I viewed Scofield's version of that play's Spanish knight at Stratford and the experience was beyond any of my expectations.
In Love's Labor's Lost, Paul Scofield's Don Adriano had become a breathtakingly foolish, Old Testament God!
Yes… that miraculous!!
A senile Jehovah, falling in love with the local town slut!!!
Shades of Christ and Mary Magdalene!!!!
Who else could have evoked such imagery except Paul Scofield?!
At the very end of this extraordinary production, directed by Michael Langham, the Spanish Knight is alone on stage and quietly but ever so gracefully a Fall leaf descended in circles from the ceiling over Stratford's thrust stage.
Our senile knight watches it descend.
Then, almost inaudibly, he clucks, "tsk-tsk-tsk"… in melancholy recognition that the summer is over and winter is coming on.
I still tear up just thinking of that moment.
On the other hand, we have William Hutt's King Lear!
I was privileged enough to see his masterpiece at my alma mater, Dartmouth, in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Profoundly unforgettable moments from his shattering performance of Lear will pop up, perhaps unexpectedly, as we wend our way through this series of articles on Michael Lear.
One must be mentioned now, however!
The incestuous kisses Hutt's Lear gave his two, unquestionably damaged and inevitably evil daughters, Goneril and Regan… he actually seemed to have "tongued" his way into tragedy!
A shocking act at the very beginning of the play!
After such a theatrically bracing hello from "The Canadian Players"?!
I sat riveted to the edge of my seat!!
Those two, most enlightening encounters with Scofield and Hutt happened not far apart from one another.
In short, acting then became for me an art form only owned and monopolized in my memory by two, now-proven geniuses: Paul Scofield and William Hutt.
My encounter with Laurence Olivier would happen later in London during the life-changing horrors of my Fulbright year in London, England.
Before I move on to that second encounter with "Terror" in the "Pity and Terror" of all great theater, I must honor Scofield's Don Adriano de Armado with the most singular ownership of classic "Pity".
His Don Adriano's obsession with the town slut, his lofty heights as a renowned Spanish knight… and the bottomless pity that must fill his love for this latter day loose lady?!
Three indelible memories of Scofield, Hutt and Olivier are the very essence of my coming creation, Michael Lear.
Michael Lear is a least one year off.
This creation will be well worth the wait!
It rises out of the very center of my divinely and most profoundly blessed life of 73 years.
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.