The untold story of one of literature’s first female voices is finally unearthed in Emilia, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s electrifying new play transferring to the West End.
What started as a limited run of 11 performances at Shakespeare’s Globe has sparked a flame within theatregoers, with the show now blazing into London’s Vaudeville Theatre.
The play follows Emilia Bassano: writer, teacher, poet and mother, said to have been ‘The Dark Lady’ of Shakespeare’s sonnets. But her story has gone unknown for centuries – until now.
Commissioned by the Globe’s Artistic Director, Michelle Terry, in August 2017, Emilia’s inspiring story became the conduit for a serendipitous meeting of an artistic idea and a social awakening. The play was staged in 2018 in the wake of a female empowerment political movement which swept across the Atlantic. Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s play shows how, 400 years ago, Emilia was also empowered to stand up – and speak out.
Directed by Nicole Charles, the show portrays Bassano at different stages of her life by three actors, who are part of an all-female company playing both hers and hims. The cast includes Saffron Coomber, Adelle Leonce and Clare Perkins as Bassano, with the multi-roling company comprising Nadia Albina, Anna Andresen, Jackie Clune, Jenni Maitland, Carolyn Pickles, Sarah Seggari, Sophie Stone, Charity Wakefield, Amanda Wilkin and Tanika Yearwood.
The story is presented in the West End by an all-female producing team – Eleanor Lloyd, Kate Pakenham, Nica Burns and Eilene Davidson – recognising the same collective strength and support amongst women of which Bassano wrote in her poetry.
Rousing, fiercely intelligent, witty and vital, Emilia’s is a story that deserves to be told and heard again and again. Stand up alongside her and be counted.