Set Up

This workshop explored ideas of royal power and the political community (key research themes of the project: find out more here and here), also glancing at notions of escaping from politics.

As well as introducing participants to Marlowe’s interest in political ideas, it sought to explore how dramatic ‘authority’ can be used to represent political authority, or otherwise; and how the theatre can be used to mobilise rival conceptions of the community.

The first half of the workshop was devoted to a series of performance exercises exploring the nature of theatrical authority and community. In the second half, groups identified and performed selections of a scene from Marlowe’s Edward II (1.4.1-85), revised and adapted for the workshop.

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SCENARIO. King Edward II of England has made his friend and favourite, the Frenchman Piers Gaveston, a nobleman. The Archbishop of Canterbury and existing members of the nobility – who detest Gaveston – decide to compel the king to sign a warrant exiling him from England.


Canterbury, Lancaster, Warwick, Mortimer, with some paper.

LANCASTER.       Here is the form of Gaveston’s exile.

May it please your lordship to subscribe your name.

CANTERBURY.    Give me the paper.

LANCASTER.       Quick, quick, my lord, I long to write my name.

WARWICK.           But I long more to see him banished hence.

MORTIMER.         The name of Mortimer shall fright the king.

Unless he be declined from that base peasant.

Enter the King and Gaveston with Kent.

EDWARD.             What, are you moved that Gaveston sits here ?

It is our pleasure, we will have it so.

LANCASTER.       Your grace doth well to place him by your side,

For no where else the new earl is so safe.

WARWICK.           Can kingly lions fawn on creeping ants ?

MORTIMER.         Their downfall is at hand, their forces down.

We will not thus be faced and over-peered.

EDWARD.             Lay hands on that traitor Mortimer.

MORTIMER.         Lay hands on that traitor Gaveston.

KENT.                    Is this the duty that you owe your king?

WARWICK.           We know our duties, let him know his peers.

EDWARD.             Whither will you bear him? Stay, or you shall die.

MORTIMER.         We are no traitors, therefore threaten not.

GAVESTON.         No, threaten not, my lord, but pay them home.

MORTIMER.         Thou villain, wherefore talks thou of a king,

That hardly art a gentleman by birth?

EDWARD.             Were he a peasant, being my minion,

He’ll make the proudest of you stoop to him.

LANCASTER.       My lord, you may not thus disparage us.

Away, I say, with hateful Gaveston.

EDWARD.             Nay, then lay violent hands upon your king.

Here, Mortimer, sit thou in Edward’s throne,

Warwick and Lancaster, wear you my crown.

Was ever king thus over-ruled as I ?

LANCASTER.       Learn then to rule us better and the realm.

EDWARD.             Anger and wrathful fury stops my speech.

CANTERBURY.    Why are you moved ? Be patient, my lord,

And see what we your counsellors haue done.

Subscribe as we haue done to his exile.

MORTIMER.         Curse him, if he refuse, and then may we

Depose him and elect an other king.

EDWARD.             Curse me, depose me, do the worst you can.

LANCASTER.       Then linger not, my lord, but do it straight.

EDWARD.             It boots me not to threat, I must speak fair.

My lord, you shall be Chancellor of the realm.

Thou, Lancaster, high admiral of our fleet.

Young Mortimer and his uncle shall be earls,

If this content you not,

Make several kingdoms of this monarchy,

And share it equally amongst you all,

So I may have some nook or corner left,

To frolic with my dearest Gaveston.

MORTIMER.         Why should you love him, whom the world hates so?

EDWARD.             Because he loves me more then all the world.

CANTERBURY.    Are you content to banish him the realm?

EDWARD.             I see I must, and therefore am content.