John Bell founded the eponymous Bell Shakespeare Company in 1990 to provide a decidedly Australian approach to the Bard’s plays and sustain his cultural and linguistic legacy here. The company started in a tent and inevitably faced its fair share of funding and survival challenges. Now, twenty years later, it is a highly respected national company that attracts consistently large audiences for theatrical experiences that side step the easy payoffs of much of contemporary culture. Bell chose to play the role of King Lear for the anniversary season as he was scenting the approaching end of his time at the helm of the company. He spoke to Peter Clarke in his dressing room during the Melbourne season of King Lear.