Cordelia, Mein Kind

A duet for live body and film that maps a modern Cordelia and her “Lear-like father”



Cordelia, Mein Kind is a duet for film and live body; a personal exploration of a present-day Cordelia-like character revealed through language, physicality, image and film. Inspired by Shakespeare's King Lear, the piece combines original interviews (between a contemporary Cordelia and her father, a Yiddish-speaking Holocaust survivor now in his dotage and living in ‘exile’ in the Melbourne suburb of Bentleigh), and other visual imagery, with a language that is gestural, poetic, direct and physical. The multiplicity of performance languages weave seamlessly together, creating a challenging and unique performance work.

Cordelia, Mein Kind takes Cordelia’s silence as its starting point. It uses key texts from Shakespeare’s play to spur a personal investigation into the silence of a contemporary ‘Cordelia’. It probes beneath the surface, exploding the silence to divulge a psychological inheritance and an emotional core linked to her father’s trauma – his history passed on to her - a history of exile and loss.

In this performance work the audience meet Cordelia as they enter - inhabiting the space in a silent ‘stand off’ with her father. She releases an explosive ‘howl’, and is (like Shakespeare’s Cordelia) about to be ‘hanged’. As she slowly descends to the ground, she enters into a netherworld between living and dying. A soundscape fills the space – one that intertwines a classic reading of Lear with her own father’s English/Yiddish cry of ‘howl howl…’ the past inhabiting the body and colliding with the present Cordelia.
As in the Shakespeare play, the key moment in the relationship is the “love-test” to which Cordelia has been subjected along with her sisters, and where she declares her uneasy silence. The major milestones in this father-daughter relationship are re-lived illuminating the character of this powerful woman, stimulating further speculation about her and the nature of silence. 

While the creative impulse for Cordelia, Mein Kind is to use Shakespeare’s seminal play to explore a particular personal cultural history, the work connects with other families living in Australia, having arrived in this country after being exiled from their own home.

Cordelia, Mein Kind is a work that doesn’t fit into a box of ‘theatre’ or ‘dance’ or ‘film’. Rather it is a piece that weaves these languages together. The piece is bold and audacious… it refuses to be pigeon holed. At the same time it remains intensely personal. Cordelia, Mein Kind weaves language (a mix of direct address to audience with more poetic and ‘performative’ style) and film with real-time performance, intertwining the three parallel journeys of the piece.

She is speaking of her childhood. Her father…… he never spoke of his past…. there was so much she didn’t know. They knew so little. Her sisters. Herself. She learnt what not to ask… what not to say….. (Susan Griffin “Chorus of Stones”).


Developed through Victoria University Solo residency program;
Theatre J Incubator Program Dec 2008 (Washington DC); Thanks to La Trobe University 

Concept/Co-Writer/Film and Performer: Deborah Leiser-Moore
Co-Writer/Director: Meredith Rogers
Choreographer: Sally Smith

Available for national and international touring.




A raw, immersive, highly physical and visual site-specific performance piece that investigates cultural memory and war.

Cordelia, Mein Kind

A duet for film and live body;
a personal exploration of a present-day Cordelia-like character revealed through language, physicality, image and film.

Director's Cut

An ir/regular gathering and
an evening of Subversion, creation, performance, ingestion, desire, adulation, laughter and especially “imbibing".

Searchlight Festival

Searchlight Festival was launched in February 2009. Due to demand and its success, it ran, with an expanded program, for
a second year in 2010.