Deaf actress Monique Holt will play wronged daughter Cordelia in The Shakespeare Theatre's 1999-2000 season-opener, King Lear, in Washington DC, Aug. 31-Oct. 24.
Artistic director Michael Kahn will direct the staging, whose unique casting -- with New York actress Holt signing her lines, which are then read by the Fool -- is meant to underline the idea that Cordelia is punished by her father for expressing herself differently than her wicked sisters.
At the top of the classic tragedy, Lear plans to divide his kingdom among the siblings based on whose expression of love is most extravagant. Goneril and Regan patronize him with purple praise, and Cordelia, who "cannot heave my heart into my mouth" says she loves him, simply and "true." Her punishment becomes Lear's -- and the kingdom's -- undoing.
Shakespeare Theatre company member Ted van Griethuysen will play Lear and Michael Hayden (of Lincoln Center's Carousel and Far East) will play Edmund.
The theatre's 1999-2000 season also includes Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Joe Calarco, Nov. 9, 1999-Jan. 2, 2000; Shakespeare's Coriolanus Jan. 18-March 12, 2000; William Wycherly's Restoration comedy, The Country Wife March 28-May 14, 2000; and Tennessee Williams' expressionistic Camino Real May 30 July 23, 2000. For information about The Shakespeare Theatre, call (202) 547-1122.
-- By Kenneth Jones