This June, The Malthouse Theatre in Canterbury will bring together a cast of leading expert Elizabethan actors and some of the biggest names in British theatre for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of the works of Christopher Marlowe.
Starring a cast list of up-and-coming theatrical talents, established names and national treasures, The Marlowe Sessions is a reimagining of Elizabethan Theatre’s enfant terrible.
Eleanor Wylde (Misfits, Thirteen, Hamlet) and Adrian Schiller (The Last Kingdom, Dr Who, Victoria), will rise to the challenge of the lead roles of Abigail and Barabbas in Marlowe’s classic The Jew of Malta. The on-stage pairing, who respectively played Jessica and Shylock in the Sam Wanamaker Globe Theatre’s acclaimed 2021 production of The Merchant of Venice, this time taking on the parts widely accepted to have provided Shakespeare with the blueprint for the original courtroom drama.
Named an International Star of Tomorrow by Screen International, rising National Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe talent Thallissa Teixera (Trigonometry, Anne Boleyn, Ragdoll) will take the lead role in Dido, Queen of Carthage.
The Olivier Award nominated Jack Holden (Journey’s End, Outlander, Midsummer Night’s Dream) will play the tragic Edward II alongside Royal Shakespeare Company leviathan Micheal Maloney, (The Crown, Macbeth, Young Victoria) as Guise in Massacre At Paris.
In addition to taking on the title role in Tamburlaine, Parts One and Two. Elizabethan theatre stalwart Alan Cox (Say My Name, Contagion, A Voyage Around My Father) whose work with the improvisational company The School Of Night has seen him recognised as one of the leading exponents of the craft, will also lead an accomplished ensemble appearing throughout the run of shows.
The Marlowe Sessions’ Associate Producer Mark Rice-Oxley – whose acting career was launched after being selected by Dame Judi Dench for the Evening Standard award that paid his way through drama school – will bring a wealth of experience from appearances at Shakespeare’s Globe, the West End, and New York, together with another RSC and National Theatre veteran in Christopher Staines (Wolf Hall, Pride & Prejudice, Dr Faustus).
RSC Associate Forbes Masson (Hamlet, Macbeth, As You Like It) will also play multiple roles alongside Olivier nominee Zubin Varla (Fun Home, I, Claudius, Deep State), Amanda Ryan (Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shameless, The Forsyte Saga), Amber James (Titus Andronicus, Antony and Cleopatra, Ransom), and Elliot Cowan (Da Vinci’s Demons, The Crown, Peaky Blinders).
Also appearing will be Riad Richie (Tamburlaine, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet), Robin Morrissey (Twelfth Night, Juno And The Paycock, Cloud Atlas), George Jones (Blackpool Lights, Runaways, Cherry Jezebel), and Andrew Woodhall (Julius Caesar, The Count of Monte Cristo, Solo: A Star Wars Story).
Limited tickets have been released on sale for local audiences to experience this significant project first hand with just two performances of each Marlowe play playing throughout June.
Poet, Playwright, and Provocateur, Marlowe was the Godfather of English blank verse. A prodigious and controversial talent, by the time of his violent death at the age of 29, he had already written and produced a collection of hugely commercially successful and popular plays together with a trove of lascivious poems that had a profound effect on Elizabethan Theatre and his contemporary writers, his work still influences drama, poetry and literature today.
Now, 450 years after the bloody wave of sectarian violence that inspired what is considered one of his final works – The Massacre At Paris – an all-star cast will for the first time, revisit the works of Canterbury’s most famous son in a unique and original series of performances set to cast the Elizabethan era’s leading voice in an all new light.
With limited tickets available for the short run of shows, each performance is to be captured using the latest Immersive Audio technologies, with a stellar ensemble cast and production team leading a recreation of the raucous, febrile atmosphere in which Marlowe’s works were originally performed.
With actors interacting within the audience, coming among them to whip up a response and make the crowd an integral part of the lively reimagining of one of English Drama’s founding fathers, you’ll experience Elizabethan Theatre like never before – stripping away centuries of academic dust to experience Marlowe’s epic productions as they were when the original performances took Tudor society by storm.
The goal is to recreate the sonic footprint of the theatre in Elizabethan England. The live performances and the production of immersive audio recordings will transport the listeners to a space and time where and when the plays were performed – enabling audiences worldwide to experience what the raucous London crowds would have heard when the plays were originally performed.
This is an innovative and original approach to production. This is Immersive Audio Theatre.
The summer theatrical performances will cover Marlowe’s complete attributed works: Doctor Faustus, Tamburlaine Parts I & II, Edward II, The Jew of Malta, The Massacre at Paris, Dido, Queen of Carthage, and his Collected Poetry – making The Marlowe Sessions the first time his entire opus has been performed in a complete series in a single run.
The staging of these performances are limited and intended for the audio capture for wider distribution. Not everyone will be able to come to the live performances, the scarcity of the sessions meaning that when the sessions complete, they can only be experienced through the Immersive Audio Theatre productions, which are set to become available in 2023.
A native of Canterbury, the mercurial playwright and son of a cobbler was educated at The King’s School, Europe’s oldest public school. In a sympathetic nod to his founding years, the Marlowe Sessions will be presented at the school’s Malthouse Theatre and produced by L6L21, with a constellation of additional star names joining the project will be announced over the coming days.
An award-winning £13million renovation, the Malthouse Theatre is a stunning converted 19th– century malt house in Canterbury which celebrates the industrial building’s original steel, brick and timber structure. The city’s newest arts venue boasts a 334-seat theatre, dance and drama studios, dressing rooms and an impressive entrance Foyer.
On 3rd and 4th June, the first Marlowe Session will take place with ‘Dido, Queen of Carthage’; the rarely told story of the intensity of human passion. On 5th, 12th and 19th June, ‘The Poetry of Christopher Marlowe’ will celebrate Marlowe as one of the most dramatic poets of his time.
The 10th and 11th June brings to life ‘The Jew of Malta’, a fast-moving tale of violent conflict between Christians, Jews and Turks. The 10th and 11th June will also see performances of Tamburlaine The Great Part One, a play in two parts and a milestone in Elizabethan public drama.
Edward The Second, Marlowe’s dramatisation of events in the reign of the historical Edward II, King of England from 1307-27 will be on 17th and 18th June, with performances of Tamburlaine The Great Part Two on the same dates.
The month of Marlowe Sessions comes to its pinnacle with one of Marlowe’s best loved works – the Elizabethan tragedy Doctor Faustus – and The Massacre At Paris on 24th and 25th June.
The productions are supported by a roll call of leading entertainment and theatrical creatives.
The Marlowe Sessions are Exec Produced by Immersive Audio Director Ray Mia, Co Producer Iain S Bruce, and a team of creative heavyweight Performance Directors in Phillip Breen (Royal Shakespeare Company), Stephen Unwin (Rose Theatre), and Dr Abigail Rokison-Woodall (Shakespeare Institute), with original music composed by Tarek Merchant (Hex/The Merchant of Venice), and sound design by the BAFTA award-winning Tudor Davies.
The show designer is award-winning Ti Green (Bristol Old Vic/Barbican), with graphics by the acclaimed contemporary portrait artist Lorna May Wadsworth. The casting directors are the industry leading Ginny Schiller CDG and Annelie Powell CDG.
The project includes widespread community, academic and creative support across Canterbury, Kent. Rehearsals will be taking place at The Marlowe Theatre with academic guidance provided by the editorial team of The Oxford Marlowe Project at The University of Kent in collaboration with the university’s The Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries (iCCi).
This is a once in a 400-year opportunity to be a part of a never before produced series of iconic material, that is set to reframe our understanding of Elizabethan Drama, and Christopher Marlowe’s place in literary history, all geared towards creating an innovative and original series of Immersive Audio Theatre performances to be enjoyed for the next 400 years. Limited tickets are on sale now, visit www.malthousetheatre.co.uk/the-marlowe-sessions