The Jacobean playhouses produced the finest line-up of playwrights the English stage has ever seen. These extraordinary contemporaries of Shakespeare – Jonson, Webster, Middleton, Marston and their peers – rivalled his successes and taught him a trick or two.
But on the modern stage Shakespeare’s overwhelming celebrity has largely overshadowed the brilliance and originality of his rivals’ achievements.
Shakespeare’s Rivals presents scenes from the most innovative Jacobean plays, from city comedy to revenge tragedy and tragicomic romance. Resdiscover the brilliance of Shakespeare’s contemporaries in a modern staging.
Featuring scenes from Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, John Marston, Philip Massinger, William Rowley Thomas Dekker and John Ford, and John Webster.
In 2013, Penelope Wilton, in one of the series of masterclasses she regularly conducts in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television, conducted a rehearsal of Act 2 Scene 1 of Thomas Middleton’s Women Beware Women.
In 2006 she had played the role of Livia in Middleton’s great tragedy, to critical acclaim, for the Royal Shakespeare Company in the Swan Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon.
She particularly relishes Middleton’s style of writing, values the distinctive quality of the experiences his plays offer, and wished to explore the demands and challenges he poses to his performers with a group of York students.
The performers are: Eliza Shea (Livia), Nick Armfield (Hippolito), Anna Thirkettle (Isabella).
In July we were joined by Olivier-award winning actor Henry Goodman to begin to explore performing Jonson’s First Folio. Goodman, who has played the titular role in Volpone and Kitely in Every Man in His Humour, worked with Mike Cordner on speeches from Volpone, Every Man In his Humour and Sejanus. The rehearsals and later performances were filmed under the direction of Simon van der Borg.