The Yiddish Queen Lear


Writers: Julia Pascal


Show Information

Based on the Play/Book/Film
Inspired by Shakespeare's King Lear
Number of Acts
First Produced
Drama, Tragedy
Period, Multiple Settings
Time & Place
New York, France, Switzerland, 1939, 1940
Cast Size
Orchestra Size
Ideal for
College/University, Community Theatre, Diverse Cast, Mature Audiences, Mostly Female Cast, Professional Theatre, Regional Theatre, Star Vehicle Female
Casting Notes

Includes mature adult, adult, young adult, elderly characters


The titular Yiddish Queen Lear, Esther Laranovska was once a star of Yiddish Theatre, traveling throughout Europe before arriving in New York City. Now, in 1939, she is struggling to pull together enough actors to revitalize her troupe. At the same time, her three daughters--Gail (Gittle), Rachel, and Channele--are working to forge their own identities in theatre, out from under their mother’s imposing shadow. While Gail and Rachel eagerly take their mother’s savings, Channele refuses and is disowned.

In a story that echoes Shakespeare’s King Lear, Esther herself becomes the despondent, wandering monarch, thrown out by Gail and ignored by Rachel. Her loyal troupe members Joseph, Annie, and Paul accompany Esther through the streets of New York City. Eventually, Channele finds her mother and takes the group home to Europe where they take up residence in France--not knowing that the storm of the Nazi army is approaching. The Yiddish Queen Lear is a vibrant retelling of Shakespeare’s famous play, and a poignant tale of forgiveness between mother and daughters until the end.

Lead Characters

The Yiddish Queen Lear guide sections