DIRECTING THE CHANGELING
I assumed in march, after the country went into lockdown, that directing “The Changeling” for the Guildford School of Acting's Actor Musician 3rd year production would be a cancellation, like every other theatre production in the world, but they had other ideas...
And so I entered this brave new world;
The Changeling has been a wonderfully dark and enjoyable play to work on, ours is an 80’s influenced world with the Aids pandemic hanging over Alicante, where the play is set, and an indie driven musical soundscape to immerse the audience in.
The first call I made was to Roger Warren, text editor par excellence, to cut the play down to half it’s length and whom I have worked with many times as an actor in Ed Hall’s Propeller company and twice for Sir Peter Hall.
It’s been a great distraction away from the reality of our current situation which for me, as well as being in lockdown, I have been ferrying my wife Serena to and from St Thomas’ Hospital, Westminster, where she’s a consultant anaesthetist, trying to home school my three children ( the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted!) and direct this play via Zoom, but along the way I have been in the company of a wonderful cast, talented, supportive and great fun to work with every day and I hope our 90 min recording reflects that.
I have also had the joy of working with Paul Herbert who has brilliantly put this all together as well as guided and organised our compositions, Nicholas Scrivens who’s energy and enthusiasm has driven us on, Jack Curtis who I delegated as our DSM, has been incredibly organised and patient whilst also giving a lovely performance as Alonso in the play and Lee O’Reilly who has been our excellent MD under Paul Herbert who co-ordinated all the music compositions and also a perfectly pitched Vermandero.
Thank you to them and to this dynamic, hard working ensemble. We hope you enjoy it!
British Renaissance playwright Thomas Middleton wrote comedy, history, tragedy, and tragicomedy. After Middleton’s father died in 1586, his mother, Anne, married a man who had lost money in Sir Walter Raleigh’s Roanoke venture. Thomas Middleton started writing as a student at Queens College, Oxford. He and his wife, Magdalene Marbecke, sister of the actor Thomas Marbecke, settled in Surrey in 1608, and Middleton was appointed city chronologer in 1620.
Middleton wrote plays for various theatre companies, among them Prince Henry’s Men, Paul’s Boys, King’s Men, and Blackfriars. Some of his plays were co-written with other playwrights, including Thomas Dekker, William Rowley, and John Webster; he collaborated with William Shakespeare on Timon of Athens. In addition to plays, Middleton wrote pamphlets and political commentary. One of his first pamphlets, The Penniless Parliament of Threadbare Poets, was published in 1601; he also published a mock almanac, The Owl’s Almanac (1618).
Middleton’s earliest recorded play, The Phoenix, was presented at court in 1603. His other titles, some in collaboration, include The Meeting of Gallants at an Ordinary (1603), which depicted the effects of the 1603 plague; The Honest Whore (1604); A Trick to Catch the Old One (1605); The Roaring Girl, or Moll Cutpurse (1611); and A Chaste Maid in Cheapside (1613)—which had 11 female characters. The Changeling with William Rowely, (1622) and his most famous play of the time was A Game of Chess (1624), an allegory of 1620s English history presented at the Globe Theatre in 1624. It ran for nine days and was closed after the ambassador of Spain complained about it. It appears that Middleton stopped writing plays after A Game of Chess.
Middleton died at his home in Southwark in 1627, and was buried on 4 July in St Mary's churchyard.. The old church of St Mary's was demolished in 1876 to facilitate road-widening, and its replacement elsewhere in Kennington Park Road was destroyed in the Second World War. The old churchyard where Middleton was buried survives as a public park in Elephant & Castle.
Rowley was best known for works written in collaboration with other writers. He seems to have made himself available as a jobbing writer who could be called on to help out with some less demanding scenes. It is easy to identify his work in a text, as his somewhat plodding verse stands in contrast to the often sparkling language of the main writer.
A solo play by William Rowley is rare and if his name had not been linked to some of the star dramatists of his time it is doubtful as to whether he would have been heard of in our time. There is not even a known portrait of him available to share with you. Nevertheless, his colleagues and contemporaries seem to have liked him and he was never without work.
Rowley’s name will live forever because of his collaboration with Thomas Middleton on The Changeling, which has remained one of the most fascinating, violent, intriguing, gripping, and entertaining English plays of all time. Its main protagonist, De Flores, is one of English drama’s most memorable psychopaths. The play is still performed regularly and the roles of De Flores and
Beatrice-Joanna are loved by actors. It is regarded by critics as one of the best Renaissance tragedies, even taking Shakespeare’s tragedies into account.
William Rowley lies in the graveyard of St James, Clerkenwell in North London.
The images on the website are all by the Italian baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, she was born in 1593 in Rome and is now hailed as one of the most celebrated painters of the 17th Century. The daughter of painter Orazio Gentileschi she was also taught painting by him. It was also Orazio who sent her to Agostino Tassi to further her ability in perspective. Tassi raped her and afterwards promised to marry her to restore her honour. He was not able to stand to his promise because he was already married.
Orazio insisted on a trial which happened in May 1612. Tassi claimed that she worked as a prostitute to discredit her. The humiliating gynaecological examination to disprove his claim and the torture she had to undergo to verify her statement had great influence on her later work. Tassi was finally sentenced to eight months in prison, but mainly because he had stolen paintings from Artemisia. After the trial Orazio married her to Pietro Vincenzo Stattiesi and she left Rome for Florence where her daughter Prudenzia was born in 1620.
In 1615 she received her first major commission from Michelangelo Buonarotti the younger (great nephew of Michelangelo) and joined the Accademia dell'Arte in Florence a year later as the first woman to be admitted to the Academy.
She soon became famous in Florence and was supported by Cosimo II de Medici for whose family she worked several times. She also befriended Galilei with who she exchanged letters for a long time afterwards. In 1623 she was so famous that she able to return to Rome. She worked there for seven years before moving to Naples.
In 1635 she was invited to the court of Charles I, where her father worked as court painter. She came to London in 1637 and helped Orazio finish the painting of the ceiling of the Queen's House in Greenwich. Orazio died soon after it was finished and she returned to Naples.
In her later years she had problems with her health and financial problems and she died around 1653 and was buried in an unknown church in Naples.
As she had been raised in her father’s studio, she followed his style as well as that of Orazios friend Caravaggio. She did not allow herself to be reduced the typical female composition of still life with flowers and fruits as well as portrait work, instead she painted large history scenes and mythological themes. While in Florence she slowly distanced herself from Orazios style and developed her own following Caravaggio. She favoured the story of Judith which she painted several times in her career.
While very famous during lifetime her work and pioneering role as a female artist was largely forgotten until the second half of the twentieth century.
For more information on her and her work please visit.
Where a new exhibition of her work was postponed in 2020 due to Covid-19 and is planned to be re-mounted when museums can reopen.