Jenny mentioned last week that she and I are spending October in different states, working with other companies. October finds me in Pennsylvania directing Hamlet for Pittsburgh Classic Players. I am treasuring the time and my appetite for Early Modern plays is only growing from this verbal feast. Fortunately, there is more Early Modern drama waiting for me back in Portland. Salt and Sage is holding a staged reading series in November – Sex Tragedy Saturdays. We want to whet Portland’s appetite for plays by Shakespeare’s contemporaries and are starting with three of my favorites: Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy, Beaumont and Fletcher’s The Maid’s Tragedy, and John Marston’s The Insatiate Countess. I wrote on all three of these plays (among others, including Hamlet) for my Masters of Letters Thesis “Brides, Wives, and Widows: Marriage and Murder in Early Modern Drama.” In my thesis, I focused on the pattern in Early Modern drama of sexual subversiveness as a primrose path to murder and proposed that that script had to do with a new emphasis in early modern England on love and companionate marriage. I chose to write on these plays not just for what they might reveal about the past but because they fire my imagination. They are plays for Shakespeare fans who also dig True Blood; they feature amazing roles for women and some of the most delicious verse ever written. We will share more details about these readings as November draws a little closer, for now, here is a little taste of their bounty:
Let dangers go. Thy war shall be with me,
But such a war as breaks no bond of peace.
Speak thou fair words, I’ll cross them with fair words;
Write loving lines, I’ll answer loving lines;
Give me a kiss, I’ll countercheck thy kiss.
- Bel-Imperia, The Spanish Tragedy
I sooner will find out the bed of snakes,
And with my youthful blood warm their cold flesh,
Letting them curl themselves about my limbs,
Than sleep one night with thee. This is not feigned,
Nor sounds it like the coyness of a bride.
- Evadne, The Maid’s Tragedy
My blood, like to a troubled ocean
Cuffed with the winds, incertain where to rest,
Butts at the utmost shore of every limb.
My husband’s not the man I would have had.
- Isabella, The Insatiate Countess