Set Up

This workshop was based on the theme of royal power, one of the project’s key research interests (find out more here).

It aimed to explore the relationship between theatrical authority, especially as exercised between actors and audience, and political authority. It also introduced participants to the political awareness and subversiveness of Marlowe’s drama.

The first half of the workshop used a variety of group exercises to explore political authority in performance. The second asked participants to read and develop a scene based on Marlowe’s 1 Tamburlaine, II.5.50-79, revised and edited for use in the workshop. This script is given below.

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SCENARIO. Tamburlaine, a shepherd and outlaw, and his men have helped Cosroe, a Persian nobleman, overthrow his brother and become king of the mighty Persian empire. After the battle, Cosroe and his men leave to ‘ride in triumph through Persepolis’, the Persian capital.

CHARACTERS. The scene needs 4 actors.

TAMBURLAINE         And ride in triumph through Persepolis?

 Is it not brave to be a king, Techelles?

Usumcasane and Theridamas,

Is it not passing brave to be a king,

And ride in triumph through Persepolis?                                5

TECHELLES              O my Lord, ‘tis sweet and full of pomp.

USUMCASANE         To be king, is half to be a god.

THERIDAMAS           A god is not so glorious as a king:

I think the pleasure they enjoy in heaven

Can not compare with kingly joys in earth.                10

To wear a crown enchased with pearl and gold,

 Whose virtues carry with it life and death;

To ask, and have; command and be obeyed.

When looks breed love, with looks to gain the prize.

Such power attractive shines in princes’ eyes.                      15

TAMBURLAINE         Why say, Theridamas, wilt thou be a king?

THERIDAMAS           Nay, though I praise it, I can live without it.

TAMBURLAINE         What says my other friends? Will you be kings?

TECHELLES              Aye, if I could, with all my heart, my Lord.

TAMBURLAINE         Why, that’s well said Techelles, so would I.                20

And so would you, my masters, would you not?

USUMCASANE         What then, my Lord?

TAMBURLAINE        Why then, ‘Casane, shall we wish for ought

  The world affords in greatest novelty,

 And rest attemptless, faint and destitute?25                                      

Me thinks we should not. I am strongly moved

That if I should desire the Persian crown,

 I could attain it with a wondrous ease.

And would not all our soldiers soon consent,

If we should aim at such a dignity.                             30


WHAT HAPPENS AFTERWARDS? Tamburlaine and his henchmen conquer everything in their path, ending the play by crowning themselves rulers of much of the Eastern world.