BENSON to Play Marlowe Studio, 20 May

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BENSON to Play Marlowe Studio, 20 May

A NEW play by local writer is to be performed at The Marlowe Studio.

Canterbury-based Victoria Field took part in Marlowe's Playwrights, The Marlowe's termly course on writing for the stage. It is there that she wrote Benson, which is based on events in the life of Edward White Benson, Bishop of Truro and later Archbishop of Canterbury. The play explores a number of themes, including the use and abuse of power, the nature of love, family and marital relationships, faith and loss, the role of iconic buildings in public life and the cost of creativity.

Victoria said: "The character of Bishop Benson has fascinated me ever since I was writer in residence at Truro Cathedral in Cornwall. His life was full of drama and my new play draws on real life events to explore themes such as love, responsibility and creativity. I am delighted that The Marlowe Studio and the Arts Council are supporting me as I develop this new play.'

The script-in-hand performance of Benson will be directed by The Marlowe's Creative Project Officer Andrew Dawson. He recently directed A Massacre At Paris during the theatre's celebrations of Christopher Marlowe's anniversary, and the community production, The Garden Of England.

Andrew said: "We are proud to support great local talent like Victoria, having her play performed at The Marlowe is an important part of our intentions and for The Marlowe Studio in particular, of becoming champions of first class new writing in the South East."

The performance will be followed by a Q&A with Victoria and Andrew, with a chance to give feedback on the work and to discuss themes of the play.

Victoria is a writer and poetry therapist. She is a former Associate Artist at Hall for Cornwall, who produced two of her plays. Her latest poetry collection is The Lost Boys (Waterloo Press).

For those particularly interested in the themes of the play, and the links between the church and theatres, there will also be a symposium. Taking place from 10am to 4pm on the same day as the production, the morning will include discussion and speakers on religious drama, including Professor Ken Pickering and Paul Allain (Lecturer at University of Kent and co-director of The Massacre At Paris), followed by an afternoon script-in-hand performance.

The history of the relationship between the theatre and the church in England is a long and complex one in which Canterbury has played an important role. With The Marlowe Theatre and Canterbury Cathedral as the two buildings dominating the skyline of Canterbury, the symposium provokes contemplation on the roles these institutions play on a wider scale and how they are linked.

Discussion of the relationship between the drama and sacred spaces will look at productions from T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral, staged in the Chapter House of Canterbury Cathedral in 1935, to Christopher Marlowe's The Massacre at Paris, which was performed this March in the Cathedral Crypt.

This project is supported by public funding by Arts Council England.

Benson is at The Marlowe Studio at 8pm on Tuesday 20 May. The symposium followed by an afternoon performance takes place from 10am to 4pm. To book, call the Box Office on 01227 787787 or marlowetheatre.com.

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