Queen Goneril by Erin Shields

Playwrights Canada Press

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Queen Goneril by Erin Shields

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Set seven years before King Lear, Queen Goneril centres the struggles of Lear’s daughters as they negotiate patriarchal systems built to keep them relegated to the sidelines. In Goneril, we find a natural-born leader. In Regan, a boundary pusher. And in Cordelia, a reluctant peacekeeper. As the three work to dismantle their individual constraints, a storm of inner reckoning begins to brew that reflects their deepest yearnings and mirrors our contemporary world.

Whip smart and wide awake, Queen Goneril is another deliciously disruptive adaptation from Erin Shields. In her signature revisionist style, Shields investigates some of our most urgent feminist issues by reimagining the roles of women in classic texts—shifting them from subjects, objects, or witnesses to central figures of both their own lives and the story’s narrative. Queen Goneril lays bare the challenges of maintaining authenticity while achieving authority—how we retain a strong sense of self while twisting around systems meant to make us play small. A compelling story about complicated characters struggling—the way we all struggle—to find their place in this world.

Cast size: 11 actors
Male roles: 7
Female roles: 4

Queen Goneril stays credible and remains compelling to its conclusion—and, thankfully, has its own enjoyable in-between dramatic voice; nothing too mock-Shakespearean, but unafraid to sample and remix his words.”
- J. Kelly Nestruck, The Globe and Mail

“... a post-modern wink to let us know that the crimes and micro-aggressions against women in the past still exist.”
- Drew Rowsome, MyGayToronto

“Shields’ script imbues the sisters with complex and sympathetic human motivations—love, empathy, fear, jealousy, shame, rage—which are constricted by the suffocating cellophane of social mores, race, class and gender. These are characters striving to be their best, while society and circumstance reduce them to clawing holes and gasping for air.”
- Scott Sneddon, SesayArts Magazine