Shakespeare's Sister Rehearsed Reading
“Let me imagine, since the facts are so hard to come by, what would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith, let us say.”
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Judith Shakespeare has one ambition: to be a playwright. When her debt-ridden father forces her into an engagement, she runs away with the help of dashing actor Ned Alleyn, hoping to join her brother in London. But when Judith arrives in the plague-stricken capital, she finds her brother gone, Ned engaged to another, and her play refused.
Judith and the players confront poverty in an economic depression; a society where women’s freedoms are curtailed; and a government tackling religious extremism in a climate of fear. Judith must choose between succumbing to social pressures, and following her dream, no matter what the cost.
Shakespeare’s Sister was first performed as a staged reading at the Theatre Royal Haymarket as part of the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust’s Pitch Your Play scheme, supported by the Noël Coward Foundation and the Vernon Charitable Trust, September 2015.
This revival of the Haymarket reading celebrates the publication of Shakespeare’s Sister by Samuel French.
Writer – Emma Whipday: Emma Whipday is a Teaching Fellow in Shakespeare and Early Modern English Literature at King’s College London. She is also a Globe Education Lecturer at Shakespeare’s Globe. Emma studied English at Oxford, and has received an MA and PhD in Shakespeare from UCL.
Emma is a winner of the Masterclass 2015 ‘Pitch Your Play’ competition. She is an Associate Writer for Oxford-based theatre company Reverend Productions, who have staged her adaptations of classic novels at the Edinburgh Fringe and various Oxford colleges and gardens. Her short plays have been performed in the Old Vic Tunnels and at an Old Vic New Voices Showcase. Shakespeare’s Sister is Emma’s first original full-length play.
Director – Asia Osborne: Asia's directing credits include Macbeth (Broadway Theatre), Valkyrie (Vaults Festival), Accidents and Emergencies (LOST Theatre), One By One (Tristan Bates), Woyzeck (St Andrew’s Crypt), Romeo and Juliet (Broadway Theatre), and Spring Awakening (Camden People’s Theatre). She trained on the Young Vic Springboard Course, and won an Emerging Directors bursary from JW3 in 2013, and a Young Company Directors' bursary from Company of Angels in 2010.
Producers – James Marsden and Brian McMahon:
Since founding Reverend Productions as a student with two friends in 2007, James Marsden has produced shows under the Reverend banner including Sense and Sensibility, (2008); The Philadelphia Story, (2009) and Gormenghast, (2012) in Oxford as well as five at the Edinburgh Fringe, including In the Kingdom of the Blind (Network Theatre, Waterloo; Upstairs @ Three&Ten, Brighton; and Venue13, Edinburgh, 2013), which received a Judges' Commendation from National Student Drama Festival Edinburgh and was selected for NSDF 2014 as one of the 11 showcase productions.
Brian McMahon is a founder member and Artistic Director of Reverend Productions (www.reverendproductions.com). He trained as an actor at East 15 and recent roles include the Narrator in Shakespeare's Sister (Theatre Royal, Haymarket), Iago in Othello (Street Theatre, Oxford) and Cadmus in The Bacchae (Ancient Olympia, Greece). In the spring he will direct a new adaptation of Ariosto's epic poem Orlando Furioso by playwright David Maskell (Weston Library, Oxford).