Theatre, 1984

King Lear

King Lear was Bergman's first production at The Royal Dramatic Theatre after his exile in Munich, with Jarl Kulle in the leading role in the wake of his success with Fanny and Alexander.
'It is unreal, dreamlike and wonderful to be back with one's own language, friends and the theatre I grew up with.'
Ingmar Bergman

About the production

Bergman mentioned three reasons for producing King Lear:

1) He felt like doing it 

2) He had the right actors for it

3) He thought the public would enjoy it.

As for his own relationship to Lear, he quoted Goethe. 'In an aging man there is always a King Lear'. Ingmar Bergman had not directed a Shakespeare tragedy since his third production of Macbeth in 1948. King Lear had not been staged at The Royal Dramatic Theatre since 1929. Bergman was hesitant about available Swedish translations of Shakespeare; therefore he commissioned a new translation that was to be 'a playable, speakable, and above all understandable version of King Lear'. Bergman calls Shakespeare's tragedy 'a secret continent'. He decided to approach King Lear as an existential drama and replaced Shakespeare’'s anachronistic references to classical mythology.

Bergman's homecoming and return to The Royal Dramatic Theatre seemed too remarkable that one reviewer suggested the Lear production be noted in the Swedish calendar as a cultural milestone, while his colleague Björn Nilsson vowed to see to it that Bergman come back permanently to Sweden, 'even if we must drag him by his hair through the waves of the Baltic sea.' Reviews emphasized the Lear production as Bergman's very personal reading of Shakespeare's tragedy and pointed to his qualities as an inspirer of actors and staff. There was almost complete unanimity that Bergman's disciplined and lucid direction had a beneficial effect on both set designer and choreographer, and that it released the best professional qualities among the actors.


  • The Ingmar Bergman Archives.
  • Birgitta Steene, Ingmar Bergman: A Reference Guide, (Amsterdam University Press, 2005).


  • Jarl Kulle, King Lear
  • Margaretha Byström, Goneril
  • Ewa Fröling, Regan
  • Lena Olin, Cordelia
  • Jan-Olof Strandberg, Fool
  • Börje Ahlstedt, Kent
  • Per Myrberg, Gloucester
  • Mathias Henrikson, Edgar
  • Tomas Pontén, Edmund
  • Per Mattsson, Albany
  • Peter Stormare, Cornwall
  • Olof Lundström Orloff, Oswald
  • Lakke Magnusson, Burgund
  • Peter Andersson, Cornwall/Frankland
  • Johan Lindell, Frankland
  • Hans Strååt, Officer
  • Birger Malmsten, Servant
  • Rolf Skoglund, Writer
  • Frank Sundström, Doctor
  • Gudmar Wiveson, The Herald
  • Jan Nyman, The Herald
  • Dennis Dahlsten, The Captain
  • Pierre Wilkner, The Fencing Master
  • Ing-Britt Andersson, Jester
  • Ivan Ossoinak, Jester
  • Marie Richardson, Jester
  • Per Svensson, Jester
  • Pia Johansson, Goneril's court
  • Jan Halling, Goneril's court
  • Staffan Lindberg, Goneril's court
  • Kristina Törnqvist, Reserve
  • Katarina Weidhagen, Regan's court
  • Karl Dunér, Regan's court
  • Rafael Edholm, Regan's court
  • Malte Forssell, Regan's court
  • Peter C Blomberg, Servant
  • Anna-Carin Franzén, Servant
  • Anders Palm, Servant
  • Kim Wesén, Servant
  • Anders Hambraeus, Soldier
  • Thomas Strand, Soldier
  • Marta Oldenburg, Regan's court
  • Christer Karlsson, Reserve
  • Mikael Persbrandt, Reserve
  • Gerthi Kulle, Regan
  • Johan Rabaeus, The Herald
  • Staffan Fridman, Jester
  • Elisabet Melander, Jester
  • Stefan Larsson, Jester
  • Anne Barlind, Goneril's court
  • Maria Bergström, Goneril's court
  • Anja Dahlström, Goneril's court
  • Monica Knudsen, Goneril's court
  • Sören Wallström, Goneril's court
  • Catharina Alinder, Regan's court
  • Ann-Sofie Kylin, Regan's court
  • Åsa Lekberg, Regan's court
  • Lena Nilsson, Regan's court
  • Margareta Rylander, Servant
  • Ralf Tjernlund, Servant
  • Fredrik Backman, Soldier
  • Niklas Danielsson, Soldier
  • Stenka Fors, Soldier
  • Max Glantz, Soldier
  • Hans Ledel, Soldier
  • Joachim Vogel, Soldier
  • Clea Lundberg, Court
  • Michael Winsa, Court
  • Sven Larsson, Court/Servant
  • Steve Kratz, Court
  • Maria Therese Sarrazin, Jester
  • Mikael Cocke, Soldier
  • Jonas Erkman, Soldier
  • Björn Hedrén, Soldier
  • Fredrik Hammar, Soldier
  • Bo J:son Lindh, Soldier
  • Lars Forsgren, Soldier
  • Carl-Henrik Wendt, Soldier
  • Peter Widman, Soldier
  • Uno Vesterlund, Soldier
  • Eva Callenbo, Servant
  • Matilda Mattson, Servant
  • Paula Ternström-Almquist, Servant
  • Stein Rognstad, Servant
  • Erik Wingqvist, Servant
  • Annika Lindberg, Reserve
  • Måns Edwall, Reserve
  • Oscar Ljung, Old man
  • Herbert Grevenius, Dramaturgy
  • Ulla Åberg, Dramaturgy
  • Béla Rerrich, Fencing instructor
  • William Shakespeare, Author
  • Ulla Cederlund, Stage manager
  • Donya Feuer, Choreography
  • Mait Angberg, Assistand choreographer
  • Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss, Costume design
  • Lars Johnsson, Lighting design
  • Daniel Bell, Music
  • Leif Qviström, Make-up and wigs
  • Anna Lena Melin, Make-up and wigs
  • Ingegerd Sundstedt, Make-up and wigs
  • Helena von Bergen, Make-up and wigs
  • Ingmar Bergman, Director
  • Anita Molander, Assistant director
  • Stefan Lundgren, Props
  • Karl Evert Kevestad, Props
  • Peter Schantz, Advisor
  • Maria Lagerbielke, Assistant designer
  • Holger Juhlin, Carpenter
  • Britta Olin, Prompter
  • Bernt Thorell, Technician
  • Jakob Tigerschiöld, Workshop
  • Agneta Pauli, Workshop
  • Britt G. Hallqvist, Translation