Mother Lear, 2017

Courtney Walsh (Mercutio in We Players’ 2016 Romeo & Juliet) as ‘Lear’
and Artistic Director Ava Roy as ‘Cordelia’

October 12-15, 2017 at Montalvo Arts Center
We're excited to announce more dates and locations for this production soon!

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First premiered in autumn 2014, this new take on our distilled two-person King Lear features powerful female performers in a fraught mother-daughter relationship. The mother is the monarch of her story and her imagination chooses the most epic death (Lear’s) to emulate in her final hour; her caretaker daughter becomes Cordelia, Fool and a host of other voices, conducting her mother to her last breath. Their story, one of the familiar and familial struggles of age, pride, regret, power, forgiveness and love, is played out through the incomparable text of Shakespeare’s Lear. The piece invites us to explore our own relationship to mortality, death and loss - and how we might move from fear to acceptance. 

+ FAQ - click to expand

How long is the performance?
Approximately 2 hours.

The first half of the performance is a little over an hour. After a short intermission, the audience reconvenes along with the performers and special guests for a community conversation about the project themes of death, dying, grief, loss and healing. Restrooms are accessible before the show begins and during intermission.

How accessible is this production?
Mobility needs can be accommodated and will be addressed on a case by case basis, please contact We Players at to request assistance.

My budget is very limited, how can I get discounted tickets?
You can join the Mother Lear Rush Ticket Mailing List for a chance at last-minute half-price tickets if they become available.

This project looks really interesting! Can I volunteer with We Players?
Absolutely! Please contact us at and we can get the conversation started!

What if my question is not answered here?
For questions about the production and performance, please contact We Players at

Answers to the below questions will be added soon!
How do I get there?

Where do I park?

What about food and drinks?

What should I wear?

What is the recommended age for youths attending this production?

+ The Cast

Courtney Walsh: Lear
Ava Roy: Cordelia

+ About the performance

Ava Roy, the founder of We Players, and actress Courtney Walsh have created a two-woman theatrical piece about an aging mother and her caretaker daughter, constructed solely from language of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Based on an earlier distillation of the Lear story (King Fool), Roy and Walsh have plumbed the depths of Shakespeare’s language to explore the themes of family, aging, pride, control, and mortality.

In Mother Lear, a formerly brilliant Shakespeare scholar, descending into dementia, can communicate only through the remembered text of King Lear. “Lear” (Walsh) is determined to end her life on her own terms, as her grip on reality succumbs to her imagined identity as King Lear. Discovering her mother surrounded by treasured possessions and an ominous bottle of pills, “Cordelia” (Roy), must try to reach her mother through the only language she recognizes. Donning a variety of personas from Shakespeare’s play, from the loyal friend Kent, to the manipulative daughter Goneril, to the irreverent Fool, Cordelia engages her mother in the difficult conversations they had never managed to negotiate prior to her illness. Through this artificial construct, they achieve authentic communication.

Audiences will re-discover the magic of the bard’s gift for expression, as two relatable modern characters find that Shakespeare’s words exceed their own in exploring difficult subjects like regret and death. At the same time, affection and intimacy blossom with Shakespeare’s humor and lyricism. These are the conversations we all must have, and the audience is invited to join in conversation following every performance.