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Taking on a Challenging Role

Stacy Keach Talks About Playing King Lear (Video Excerpt)

After mild stroke, and insertion of stent, convincing his doctor that he was up to the task

When something emotionally or physically difficult happens to an actor, his or her first response is to "use it"; that is, to draw on the experience of physical pain or mental anguish to improve the performance.

That's what Stacy Keach has done in recreating the role of King Lear this summer in Washington, D.C. Just before getting ready to do the show, which he had performed to great acclaim in Chicago three years ago, Keach had a mild stroke. He's come back stronger than before, but not without some concern over whether he could play the raging and mercurial king.

Working with director Bob Falls, Keach has figured out how to "use" his health challenge in the very first scene of the play, and he describes that process in this clip.

Watch this video excerpt from the interview with Mike Cuthbert, and see scenes from the extraordinary production.

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