Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Early Modern Women and Drama

The UCL Centre for Early Modern Exchanges is delighted to announce the following seminar:

Wed 6th Feb, *6pm*, Foster Court 114
Early Modern Women and Drama
Alison Findlay (Lancaster): '"Ile be my selfe ... And I must bee a Queene": Daniel’s Cleopatra and the performance of sovereignty'
Marion Wynne-Davies (Surrey): 'More Women, More Weeping: Mary Sidney Herbert's Tragedy of Antonie'
Yasmin Arshad (UCL) and Emma Whipday (UCL): Staging Daniel's Cleopatra
Chair: Helen Hackett (UCL)
All welcome; for maps and directions, please see
For more on the UCL Centre for Early Modern Exchanges, please see

This seminar will introduce:

Samuel Daniel's Cleopatra
A Jacobean-style performance
2pm, Sunday 3rd March
The Great Hall, Goodenough College, Mecklenburgh Square, London WC1N 2AB
For more information, please see Booking details to follow shortly.
Supported by: the UCL Grand Challenge of Intercultural Interaction, 'Gained in Translation' programme; the UCL European Institute; UCL Art and Humanities Faculty Institute of Graduate Studies (FIGS); and UCL English Department.

Samuel Daniel’s Tragedie of Cleopatra (1594) is the first English drama about Cleopatra and a source for Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. This production arises from the PhD research of Yasmin Arshad (UCL, English) and is directed by Emma Whipday (UCL English). It brings together a talented production team from a wide range of UCL departments, with professionally trained actors in lead roles.

The production will explore early modern attitudes to race and national identity. The play centres on tensions between Egypt and Rome and on a non-European heroine who is fascinatingly different from Shakespeare’s Cleopatra in her nobility and stoicism. It is a sequel to Mary Sidney’s translation of Robert Garnier’s Antonie, making it an English play about an Egyptian queen inspired by a translation from French of a neo-Senecan tragedy. As such it demonstrates that cultural dialogue across and beyond Europe was the engine of artistic and intellectual innovation in the early modern period.

The production will also overturn the widespread perception that women did not participate in drama in Shakespeare’s time. Although female roles were taken by boys in commercial playhouses such as the Globe, Daniel’s play belongs to a genre (sometimes called ‘closet drama’) performed in country house settings with actors including women. Excitingly, Yasmin Arshad has discovered a portrait of a Jacobean lady in costume as Cleopatra, inscribed with lines from Daniel’s play.

By investigating the history of relations between performance, race, and gender in early modern Europe this production will enhance our understanding of these issues in the present. The performance will be on Sunday 3rd March 2013 at Goodenough College; booking details to be announced shortly. A DVD will be made available to researchers and teachers of early modern drama, and a programme of activities will include a schools workshop, an Early Modern Exchanges research seminar, and a Read not Dead staged reading at Shakespeare’s Globe.


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