QUEEN LEAR

Queen of the Orcades in what is now Northern Scotland, a rocky series of islands on the North Sea. She is old, but her strength and beauty are timeless. She doubles as both warrior queen and shamaness/high priestess of the tribe. She is the mother of life and bears a giant water tattoo. She is a being of great magic and great rage, which has won many wars. At the end of her reign, she has become vain, weary, and decadent. Rather than ruling until her death, as is tribal custom, she has abdicated her throne and divided her land and power amongst her daughters.


GONERIL

Lear’s eldest daughter. Trained to be a great warrior, as strong and fierce as any man, and just as hardened. She is constantly scheming and manipulating to increase her lot in the world. A brilliant liar. She bears a giant fire tattoo.


REGAN

Lear’s middle daughter. She is strong-willed and cruel, but will always follow Goneril’s lead in any plans they make together. Yet behind her façade of obedience to her sister’s schemes, she only feigns a sense of submission. She is incredibly intelligent and possesses a gift of foresight and prophecy, which has been corrupted by her lust for power. She bears a giant earth tattoo.


CORDELIA

Lear’s youngest daughter and object of her mother’s deepest affection until Lear banishes her. Truly loyal, she is unaffected by the trappings of wealth, power, or fame. Human affection and a respect for the natural world drive her purity of spirit and guide her inner magic. She bears a giant wind tattoo.


GLOUCESTER

A wise and faithful female elder of Lear’s tribe. The voice of reason and compassion in all courtly affairs, she is highly respected by all of the tribe’s leaders and warriors. Widowed when the love of her life died in battle, she was raped by a soldier and became pregnant, ultimately giving birth to Ethne. She dotes on Etain, but does not reject Ethne.


ETAIN

Legitimate daughter to Gloucester. Her father, the love of her mother’s life, was killed in battle. She has pledged to safeguard her mother in her father’s absence. The victim of circumstance and Ethne’s scheming. She is loyal and generous, a morally upstanding individual. She flees from her mother’s house when wrongly accused, but rather than seek immediate revenge she bides her time and administers compassionate justice on Ethne. She dresses like a madman in order to remain in the kingdom and protect her mother and ends up becoming the queen’s caretaker as well. She bears a giant fairy tattoo.


ETHNE

Bastard daughter to Gloucester, a child of rape. Her soul has been wounded by her origins and her inability to hold a legitimate place in the tribe, despite Gloucester’s lack of animosity towards her. She is mannish and spiteful, a tomboy. Trained herself to be excellent with a sword and taught herself to read. Incredibly intellectual, morally a predecessor to Machiavelli. She bears a giant dragon tattoo.


AILIS

Lear’s faithful friend and true counselor. She is capable of great sacrifice of body and spirit and has pledged her fealty to the queen. Ailis regards that loyalty is a lifelong vow. She is a strong warrior and has always born herself with courage and integrity. She recognizes Cordelia’s strength of spirit and seeks to protect it as well.


FOOL

A young man not unlike the changeling boy from Midsummer. The Queen’s personal servant and male “pet.” His humor comes primarily from ironic wordplay and sarcasm, turning the situations around him upside down. He is a fragile soul able to see the truth in difficult situations. He becomes a substitute for the grandchildren the Queen does not have.


THANE OF KIRKWALL

Husband to Regan. Rash, quick to action, vicious and merciless. Strict and authoritarian. Stubborn. Constantly fighting his wife for domination of their household and his lands. Always seeking to prove himself.


THANE OF ABERDOUR

Husband to Goneril. A strategist more than a soldier. His biggest fault is that he loves his wife dearly, but knows that she will always regard her thirst for power above any real affection for him as a man or lover. A good man at heart, he has lost his way by participating in his wife’s schemes.


KING OF GAUL

Leader of the Gauls in what is now France, he is distinguished and mannered, a living representation of his people. The Gauls, though savage fighters, are more civilized than Lear’s tribe, with formal, decorated uniforms, banners, and tents. Gaul is kind and generous, sympathetic to Cordelia’s plight, even if he does not love her in a romantic way.


PRINCE OF BRITTANY

Young, handsome, likely will be a good leader once he matures. On the surface, he loves Cordelia very much and shows much devotion to her. However, he has been sent on a mission by his father to marry her in order to form a political, military, and financial alliance with Lear’s tribe. When Cordelia is disinherited, he sees these plans fall apart, so he must return to his homeland and negotiate another similar courtship and marriage with another tribe.


OSWALD

Goneril’s servant. Vain, shifty, cruel, a bit unhinged, a bully. A loose cannon that seeks out discord and violence wherever he can find it. Fiercely loyal to Goneril. An inept swordsman and coward.


CURAN

A female courtier in Gloucester’s house. Respectful, deferential.


SHAMANESS

A wizened old woman who possesses great powers of second sight and healing. Cordelia takes her to Gaul as a remnant of her tribe’s religion. She later returns to Orkney to minister to Queen Lear.


HIGH PRIESTESS

A tall woman, striking looks with a high soprano voice. She leads and sings the opening song, which is sung in Gaelic.


OLD WOMAN

A tenant on the heath on Gloucester’s estate. Most likely makes her living by selling peat cut from the bogs on the heath. Maternal and compassionate, she possesses a spirit of great hospitality.


CAPTAIN

Male soldier employed by Ethne.


GENTLEMAN

Attendant on Cordelia.


PICTISH WARRIORS - Female

GAUL WARRIORS - Male

ATTENDANTS, MESSENGERS, SERVANTS

The cast size may be reduced by doubling or increased by adding ensemble members.



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