Booking from: Friday, 8 March 2019
Booking until: Saturday, 15 June 2019
Friday, 8 March 2019
Saturday, 15 June 2019
Emilia – A dazzling new feminist play
Welcome to Emilia. This is a new play, a grand speculative exploration of the woman who may have stolen Will Shakespeare's heart, who might have inspired his sonnets. Her name was Emilia Bassano, she lived from 1569-1645, and her father was an Italian court musician. She was a poet, mother, teacher and a feminist, but that's about all the information we have.
Playwright Morgan Lloyd Malcolm has taken the few facts we know about Emilia and invented a plot that turns her into a symbol of all women, of all the females who have been stamped on, shouted down and not allowed a voice for century after century. If you're a woman you'll already know that Emilia's story remains our own. True equality still hasn't arrived almost four hundred years after her death. We are still struggling to make our voices heard.
Lloyd Malcolm paints a boisterous picture of Emilia, a girl who isn't interested in the stately courtship games played by her fellow aristocrats. She wants to write, and it's a burning desire. The playwright casts her as Shakespeare’s actual lover, a woman whose words the Bard freely borrowed and used as his own.
In real life, Emilia was the mistress of the Lord Chamberlain. So she might have met Shakespeare, or might not. This speculative history is angry and passionate, furiously so. The final blazing address to the audience is so powerful it feels like a genuine call to arms, a demand for action, a clarion call for rebellion.
Nicole Charles directs and the all-female cast includes Leah Harvey, Vinette Robinson and Clare Perkins, all sharing the title role. Shakespeare is revealed as unusually arrogant. Carolyn Pickles' portrayal of Lord Henry Carey, Emilia’s past lover, is made with plausible skill, and Amanda Wilkin makes an extraordinarily good job of playing Emilia's uncaring husband, Alphonso Lanier.
It's 1609 and Emilia is livid with rage. As a writer, wife, lover, mother and muse she remains unheard, uneducated and unequal, with little opportunity and almost no respect. She wants a choice, and a voice. Roll forward time to 2018 and all women are Emilia, her story is still our story, she reaches across time to touch our lives with passion, anger, laughter and song.
Times are changing... but not fast enough. Let Emilia inspire and unite us. We are all Emilia. Let's stand alongside her and be counted.
Who is this show for?
This show is about feminism. As such it isn't suitable for very young children, but OK for people aged 12 or more.
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404 Strand, London, WC2R 0NH
- Air conditioned
- Member of Q-Park scheme
- Wheelchair/scooter access
- Capacity: 700
- Year built: 1870