The Marlowe Sessions
A cast of leading expert Elizabethan actors and some of the biggest names in British theatre are coming together for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of the works of Christopher Marlowe.
Starring a secret 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, and will take to the Malthouse stage this 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.
In The Marlowe Sessions, a catalogue of A-List guest stars will lead “script in hand”, deconstructed performances of his attributed works with a minimalist set and wardrobe, supported by authentic live musical accompaniment and offering theatre goers a rare glimpse behind the theatrical curtain in the company of the stage’s biggest contemporary names.
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 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 can then only be experienced through the Immersive Audio Theatre productions which will be made available in 2023.
The 2022 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.
Presented at The Malthouse Theatre and produced by L6L21, the constellation of star names joining the project will be announced over the coming weeks.
To be performed at the new Malthouse Theatre in Canterbury, an award-winning £13million renovation at the heart of The King’s School – where the mercurial playwright and son of a cobbler spent his formative academic years – the productions are supported by a roll call of leading entertainment and theatrical creatives.
Exec Produced by Immersive Audio Director Ray Mia with L6L21 partner Paul Morrissey, with a team of creative heavyweight Performance Directors 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).
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.