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The Knight of the Burning Pestle


Date:  Thursday 13 November 2014
Time:  10.30am to 12.30pm (please arrive by 10.15am to be seated for 10.30am start).
Venue: Bradley Studio (southeast side of the Octagon Theatre), The University of Western Australia.
RSVP: This is a free performance but RSVP would be appreciated please, to pam.bond@uwa.edu.au

This is a fully staged production with boy actors from Guildford Grammar School, Perth, of Francis Beaumont’s 'The Knight of the Burning Pestle', directed by Professor Peter Reynolds (Newcastle University, UK, and Partner Investigator with the ARC Centre for the History of Emotions).

For many years scholars have been intrigued by the activities of companies of boy players who constituted a “rival tradition” to that of the adult players in early modern theatre, and have wondered how these worked emotionally. Yet, unless you happened to witness a school play in an all-boys school, the scrutiny of the small but significant canon of plays originally written for performance by children/young adults, has long been restricted to the study not the stage. Even today, plays performed in schools by single sex groups of children are almost invariably by Shakespeare and not by contemporaries including Ben Jonson, Francis Beaumont, John Lyly and John Marston, who wrote specifically for companies of boy/adolescent actors.  Our staged production, and discussion generated by it in a mini-symposium, will illuminate emotions in Elizabethan theatre which are otherwise difficult to retrieve or imagine in studying texts on the page.

Professor Reynolds previously directed Ben Jonson’s 'Epicene' or 'The Silent Woman' with another group of local school boys as part of the 2012 ANZSA conference at UWA, which provided an unrivalled opportunity to experience emotional effects generated by an “original practices” boys’ production.

“…there is, sir, an aery of children, little eyases…that…are now the fashion, and so berattle the common stages…for so they call them…that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose quills and dare scarce come thither.” (Hamlet II ii 354-60).