Archives for The Duchess Of Malfi

“I am Duchess Of Malfi still”: how to create a 1950s upper-class alter-ego

It’s a year to the day since Lauren John Joseph auditioned for Cover Her Face, back when it was not much more than a good idea with a bad working title. As they were in Berlin at the time, we did it over Skype, but even the inevitable picture breakup and dropped connections couldn’t conceal how the part should be theirs. Since finishing Cover Her Face earlier this year, Lauren John Joseph has been developing a tantalising new show at Battersea Arts Centre (The Last Night in the Life of Alexander Geist, which should hit the stage next year); jetting back

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A saucy and ambitious devil is dancing in this circle: the fascination of Antonio

Tom Campion talks to Daniel Fulvio about the challenges of playing Antonio in Inky Cloak’s queer adaptation of The Duchess Of Malfi. DF: How did you prepare for the role of Antonio? TC: This was a bit of a difficult one: when you prepare for a role, everything comes from the script. And although this adaptation was out there and bold, not a lot of the text was changed. That said, for Antonio, everything in his world was changed. And more so than any other character – apart from, perhaps, The Duchess. In Webster’s original, Antonio is in this world for the

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The marriage night is the entrance into some prison: getting out of textual jail in rehearsal

Long before we started rehearsals for Cover Her Face, our adaptation of John Webster’s The Duchess Of Malfi as a 1950s trans honour killing, we spent a lot of time working on the text. By the first readthrough, we thought we had cracked most, if not all, of the problems we had set ourselves by re-casting the protagonist as a wealthy socialite from 1950s London who wished to live as a woman (around the time that French gynaecologist Georges Burou was conducting the first wave of post-war gender reassignment operations at his clinic in Casablanca.) Many ‘sisters’ had become ‘brothers’,

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We that are great fellows of pleasure: having fun with a ’50s rent boy

I was delighted when I found out that I had gotten the role of Julian in Cover Her Face (Julia in Webster’s original) because I knew that he was a character that I could have a lot of fun with. And fun was the feeling I wanted to keep with me when working on this character and in the rehearsals, because that’s what I felt Webster was offering in the text. After my first reading of the play, I jokingly referred to Julian as the “whorish fool” of the play but even though I said that in jest, that really was

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You call this painting? Getting acquainted with the closet of a 1950s drag queen

How to play a 1950s drag queen! I had attempted to play a real woman in a short film and had a few seconds as a drag queen in another short film, but with no dialogue. So really this was a new challenge. Castruccio in the original version of The Duchess Of Malfi was an old man, so not much help there. I looked up drag queens in the 1950s. I discovered that after the second world war, drag on the London stage was quite popular. Audiences often assumed, or chose to believe, they were seeing the sort of shows

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’Tis nothing but my melancholy: playing the Jacobean malcontent in a 1950s setting

A major challenge in the role of Bosola is addressing his archetypal role of the Jacobean malcontent – a man filled with rage at the superficial world around him, cynical about the motivations of others while at the same time a convicted criminal and ready gun-for hire. Applying a purely Stanislavskian interpretation to the character’s contradictory nature was something that I was very wary about: part of what makes Webster’s original text so interesting is his juxtaposition of contradictory values within the same character, and I didn’t want to simply ignore this element in the writing and be needlessly reductive.

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