The Dutch Courtesan

About the author


Michael Cordner is Ken Dixon Professor of Drama and Head of Theatre in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television (TFTV) at the University of York.

His main research and teaching interests lie in English drama 1580-1720, theatre, film and television comedy, and the development of the theatre in the UK since the Second World War.

He has a powerful preoccupation – as an editor and general editor, as a sceptical observer of key aspects of mainstream editorial practice in handling dramatic texts, and as a director – with the differing nature of playscripts from different periods, and what they do and do not prescribe about the performances which may be derived from them.

He is the founding General Editor of Oxford University Press’s Oxford English Drama series, which ranges from the 1580s to the early twentieth century. His own editions include: George Farquhar, The Beaux’ Stratagem; Sir George Etherege, Plays; Sir John Vanbrugh, Four Comedies; Four Restoration Marriage Plays; and Richard Brinsley Sheridan, ‘The School for Scandal’ and Other Plays.

He founded and designed the Writing and Performance (Drama/Film/Television) BA and MA, introduced in 2000 within the Department of English and Related Literature at York. Their swift success and popularity with students led to their becoming the foundation for the Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance BA and MA programmes in TFTV when it in turn was established in 2007.

His current research aims to link historical and textual exploration with practical experiment. He regularly directs plays from the early modern repertoire – most recently, James Shirley’s Hyde Park, John Marston’s The Malcontent, and Thomas Middleton’s A Mad World, My Masters - using student casts and production teams from the Department of Theatre, Film and Television. Two articles by him, which weave together this production experience with a revisionist account of the two plays under scrutiny – ‘A Mad World, My Masters’: From Script to Performance and ‘The Malcontent’ and the ‘Hamlet’ Aftermath – will be published in the spring and summer 2013 issues of Shakespeare Bulletin; while a reconsideration by him of the contrasting philosophies of Peter Hall and John Barton on the demands of Shakespearean theatre and the nature of the apt training to prepare actors to handle it – (Mis)advising Shakespeare’s Actors – will appear in the 2013 volume of Shakespeare Survey.

He has planned the present website to take further the dialogue between performance exploration and traditional analytical and historical approaches to the study of early modern theatre, combining, as it does, innovative scholarly contributions with the mapping and analysis of the rehearsal and production process by which a major Jacobean work is brought back to the stage, and the challenges confronted and discoveries made during that process.

Contributions

Introducing the film of The Dutch Courtesan

§1 We are delighted to be able to make available on the website, as promised, the film of our June 2013 production of The Dutch Courtesan. The filming was carried out at the first public performance, using a four-camera set-up, directed by my television colleague Patrick Titley, and with the sound recording under the control [read more…]

Director’s Blog

In this post is collected a series of notes from the play’s director, Michael Cordner, on the ongoing rehearsal process. Sunday 2 June   Just passed the half-way mark in our short rehearsal period. The first attempt today on the play’s massive final scene, with its extraordinary twists and turns. Putting it on its feet [read more…]

About the Dutch Courtesan Project

In June 2013 John Marston’s The Dutch Courtesan will be staged at the Department of Theatre, Film and Television at the University of York. This is the latest in a continuing series of productions of plays from the early modern repertoire there. This website has been created, both to track the Marston production as it [read more…]

Oliver Ford Davies: Performing Jacobean Verse

The Olivier Award-winning actor Oliver Ford Davies is a Professional Associate of the Department of Theatre, Film and Television at the University of York and gave the 2011 Cantor Modern Art Lecture at the University on Did Gertrude Know? Some Problems in Performing Shakespeare. In addition to a distinguished array of performances in leading Shakespearean [read more…]

Mapping The Dutch Courtesan

§1[*] The Dutch Courtesan divides opinion.  For one scholar, it is Marston’s only “masterpiece in dramatic portraiture” (Bradbrook, 162), while, for another, it exemplifies the terminal “deliquescence of his talent” in the final phases of his playwriting career (Ure, 77). If views of the script’s quality diverge so radically, so do accounts of its major characters. [read more…]

Franceschina’s Voice

§1[*] Scholarship on The Dutch Courtesan has been fascinated by its title character’s idiosyncratic and wayward accent and, with very few exceptions, has expressed decisive views about its likely effect on audiences. According to one observer, Marston has burdened Franceschina with a “grotesque foreign lingo”, which irreparably cuts her “off from normal life” (Hunter, 320). [read more…]

The Dutch Courtesan, 1964

§1[*] In summer 1964 the newly established National Theatre made its first venture into the non-Shakespearean early modern repertoire with a production, by William Gaskill and Piers Haggard, of John Marston’s The Dutch Courtesan. Across the preceding century those advocating the establishment of such a flagship enterprise had consistently featured in their propaganda a requirement [read more…]

A Mad World My Masters – Introduction

In 2011 I directed Thomas Middleton’s A Mad World, My Masters with a student cast and production team on the largest stage of the Department of Theatre, Film and Television (TFTV) at the University of York. At its first performance on 23 June, it was filmed, using a four-camera set-up, by a team directed by [read more…]