Dulwich College has commissioned a new play about Edward Alleyn written by Old Alleynian Michael Punter. The play was performed at the Edward Alleyn Theatre at the College in November with a cast drawn from the College and JAGS.
Upstart Crows is the story of Edward Alleyn, the foremost actor of his time and founder of Dulwich College, and Christopher Marlowe, England's greatest playwright before Shakespeare. The play begins with Edward Alleyn in captivity, at the request of a "highly placed" person within the Elizabethan intelligence network. His artistic associate, Christopher Marlowe, has been accused of a number of crimes against the State, and Alleyn's evidence will be crucial if Marlowe is to be saved from a traitor's death. As Alleyn recounts the details of their life in the theatre, the facts of Marlowe's double-existence at last come to light. The onstage world of Tamburlaine and Faustus collides with the reality of state politics x subterfuge, broken faith and betrayal, as Alleyn fights for his and Marlowe's life.
The play uses information held in the College's archives, drawing on Henslowe's Diary and Alleyn's letters. It is a fictionalised account of one of the greatest collaborations in the English Theatre.
Michael Punter was at Dulwich from 1980-87 and performed in a number of plays during that time. He wrote his first play for the House Drama competition. He has written The Wolves for Paines Plough which toured the country and was short-listed for the George Devine and Peggy Ramsay awards. This was followed by A Theft for the RSC Fringe at The Other Place, Stratford. Then came a new version of Aristophanes' The Birds for Birmingham Rep and The Nightwatch for Pop-Up Theatre, which received an award from the Peggy Ramsay Foundation. Michael has written for the BBC with Come to Me and The Glad House. His short play nationatheatre will be presented as part of the NT's upcoming festival on the South Bank. As well as writing, Michael also teaches Drama at The Royal Holloway, University of London.
What will be one of the largest of South London's estimated forty theatres is being built at Alleyn's School. The Michael Croft Theatre, named in honour of the founder of the National Youth Theatre and former English teacher at the school in the 1950's, will seat an audience of over 300. It will also provide a South London base for the National Youth Theatre and small studio space called the National Youth Theatre Studio.
The new theatre will be technically advanced with a tension wire mesh over the auditorium allowing lighting technicians to move safely. The stage will be hydraulically lifted and can be set in a variety of patterns. It is contained within the shell of a larger building to be named the Edward Alleyn Building which will contain a range of teaching rooms.
Gipsy Hill was transported back to the early nineteenth century with memories of the Beulah Spa last month. The 175 year-old eponymous play by Charles Dance was revived in a rehearsed reading at Goodliffe Hall, Highland Road.
The evening was the inspiration of local resident and theatre director Patrick Lambe. He said "It's great to have unearthed such a theatrical gem which also touches on local history. In one sense, the play is a jolly romp, typical of its day with songs and disguises; but it is also an insight into what the now lost spa was like in its heyday, with its minstrels, tearooms, band and gipsy fortune-tellers. It's also exciting that nearly a dozen professional actors have been wiling to offer their services to hep raise funds for the rebuilding of the Goodliffe Hall."
The Financial Times has tipped Daisy Clark who is studying for a MA in Illustration at the Royal College of Art as a "Good investment for the future". Her latest work, commissioned by Herne Hill URC and Methodist Church, Red Post Hill is a 4 metre by 6 metre mural entitled 'Are the floods returning? Case for the Earth.' The mural uses the Biblical story of Noah's Ark to deliver a contemporary environmental message of care for the earth.