Marlowe Theatre Celebrates Birth of Namesake with Marlowe450
THE MARLOWE Theatre is marking the 450th anniversary of the birth of its playwright namesake with a season of performances and talks. Christopher Marlowe's greatest works are returning to the theatre named after him with two plays, Faustus and The Jew Of Malta; a third play, The Massacre Of Paris, will be performed in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral.
The Marlowe450 season, from Fourth Monkey Theatre Company in association with The Marlowe Studio, starts with Faustus (directed by Ailin Conant) - arguably Marlowe's most famous play. It tells the story of the man who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for wealth and power. Fourth Monkey turn the classic on its head, with a female Faustus. The Jew of Malta, credited with being the play that inspired Shakespeare's The
Merchant Of Venice, features a cast of 10 and follows a Maltese Jew's bloody vengeance on a city that has left him destitute (directed by Justin Audibert).
The Massacre At Paris, directed by The Marlowe Theatre's Creative Projects Officer Andrew Dawson and the University of Kent's Paul Allain, will feature Fourth Monkey's full company of 24 actors and will be staged by candlelight in the cathedral crypt.
The play is considered Marlowe's most dangerous work, based around the St Bartholomew's Day massacre which saw the systematic murder and execution of thousands of Protestants, instigated by the French royalty and Catholic nobles.
The English dramatist, poet, translator and spy, whose alleged death or mysterious disappearance aged only 29 is still shrouded in ambiguity, was born in Canterbury and baptised there on 26 February 1564, 450 years ago. He won a scholarship to King's School, before leaving at the age of 15 for Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he studied theology.
Each show's opening night will be preceded by a talk to discuss Marlowe's works, life and death. Speakers include writer Charles Nicholl (The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe, winner of the Crime Writer's Association Gold Dagger Award for Fiction and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize), Ros Barber (The Marlowe Papers, winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize, joint Author's Club Best First Novel Award, and Calvin & Rose G Hoffmann Prize), as well as Louis de Bernieres (Captain Corelli's Mandolin) and Jan Leeming, TV presenter and newsreader, and assistant guide at the cathedral.
Fourth Monkey Theatre Company are known for their large-scale physical theatre productions and training courses for actors, a leading alternative to conservatoire training.
The company's Artistic Director, Steven Green, said: "I am genuinely excited about Marlowe450. To be delivering a season of Marlowe's work in repertory in association with The Marlowe Theatre and The Marlowe Society is an honour and a privilege on the anniversary of his birth. We hope this new season of Marlowe re-imagined, also enables us to reach the young theatre-goers of today and thus hopefully The Marlowe Society members and appreciators of tomorrow. Too often in Shakespeare's shadow, the man and the work deserves a stage of his own and in our own little way we are delighted to be offering him one."
George Metcalfe, Chairman of the Marlowe Society, said: "We are particularly delighted to have been privileged 'to adopt' the dynamic Fourth Monkey Theatre company to help us celebrate Christopher Marlowe's 450th anniversary. At least we know he was the genuine author of at least six groundbreaking, magnificent plays and the greatest playwright of his generation. We are confident that the brilliant young Fourth Monkey actors will add a new dynamism in encouraging the next generation to be equally fascinated by our extraordinary young genius."
Marlowe450 runs from Wednesday 12 to Friday 28 March. For performance times, details of the talks, and ticket prices, call the Box Office on 01227 787787, or go to marlowetheatre.com.