Robert Yarrington’s Two Lamentable Tragedies, printed in 1601, presents a “two-folde tragedy” composed of two intertwined narratives. One dramatises the murder of one neighbour by another, and is set in contemporary London. The other portrays the murder of an orphaned boy at the hands of his aunt and uncle, who covet his inheritance. It is a fictional narrative, and is set in Padua. This play is rarely studied or taught, and has never, to my knowledge, been performed in modern times.
My name is Emma Whipday, and I’m a doctoral candidate in English at University College London. My thesis looks at Shakespeare’s tragedies alongside the genre of domestic tragedy, and in so doing, explores the ways in which disrupted homes are represented on the early modern stage, page and street. I recently directed an original practices production of Samuel Daniel’s The Tragedie of Cleopatra, an early modern closet drama. You can read more about it here, and you can buy a DVD of the performance here.
In staging Yarrington’s London-set ‘lamentable tragedy’, using early modern rehearsal techniques, I hope to illuminate the ways in which this domestic tragedy stages anxieties about the tension in a crowded and ever-growing city between the self-interest of an individual household and the peace and concord of the wider community. I’m delighted to use what I learned when staging Cleopatra to direct a play using a different set of ‘original practices’: ‘parts’ for actors, a two-week rehearsal period, and costumes and props which are ‘contemporary’ for today’s audience. Working with Reverend Productions, a young professional theatre company adept at experimenting with rehearsal methods, I will aim to replicate (as far as possible) the experience of an Elizabethan acting company staging a new play.
This blog chronicles the play’s journey, from initial idea to final performance, and afterlife. The play will be staged in University College London at 7pm on 21st March, 2014. To reserve a ticket, email email@example.com; tickets are free, but space is limited. I hope to see you there!