The Iphigenia Project


Portrait of Jane Fitzalan, Lady Lumley, by Steven van der Meulen, 1563

This academic year the Department of Theatre at the University of Bristol celebrates its 75th anniversary. The founder of our Department, Glynne Wickham, regularly utilised practice-as-research methodologies to stage rarely performed early modern plays.  The Iphigenia Project aims to honour his legacy, celebrating the unique role that the University of Bristol has played in establishing Drama as an academic discipline.

Believed to have been written in 1554, Lumley’s Iphigenia is the first translation of Euripides’s play into English and the oldest surviving work of English drama by a woman. It’s a really important part of our theatre history, but has tended to be neglected in performance.  We’re excited to bring Lumley’s work to the stage as one of many activities celebrating the Department’s 75th anniversary this year.

As part of the project, we will be staging two public performances, one in January and one in March. In preparation for these performances we have been running a series of workshops, designed to equip students with a range of skills in staging classical texts. We’ve welcomed students from the Departments of Film, English, and Classics to these sessions, as well as those studying in Theatre.

In January, students will collaborate with professional actors on a script-in-hand performance of Lumley’s text, supported by the Institute of Greece, Rome, and the Classical Tradition. This staged reading will provide an opportunity to explore the dramaturgical significance of the chorus in Lumley’s work.  It’s a rare chance to engage with this important piece of theatre history in performance.

In March, students and staff in the Department will collaborate on a creative response to Lumley’s Iphigenia. Building on the staged reading, this performance will interrogate the relevance and theatrical value of the play from the perspective of contemporary theatre-makers.

We’ll share regular updates on our work as it progresses, as well as invitations to the public performances.  In the meantime, if you’re a student who would like to participate in the January performance you can find out more and register your interest here.

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