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About Emilia

‘A fire-cracker production… a hit’ The Times

400 years ago Emilia Bassano wanted her voice to be heard. It wasn’t. Could she have been the “Dark Lady” of Shakespeare’s sonnets? What of her own poems? Why was her story erased from history?

Emilia and her sisters reach out to us across the centuries with passion, fury, laughter and song. Listen to them. Let them inspire and unite us. Celebrate women’s voices through the story of this trailblazing, forgotten woman. Stand up and be counted.

Tell Me More

If you’ve ever been suspicious of Shakespeare’s undisputed male privilege, “Emilia” answers all of your burning Elizabethan-era feminist questions. The story delves deep into the treacherous consequences of the universal dominance of the patriarchy in the 1600s, revolving around the real life of poet Emilia Bassano Lanier. As a writer, mother, wife, and muse, Emilia wore loads of hats yet seldom received the credit.

This history play is all about throwing convention to the side. Thirteen women play all the roles — both male and female — and three women play Emilia, illustrating the equitable supportive system embodied by a community of women.

The most prominent effect of this moving play, however, is its ability to reach across the centuries that separate the real life Emilia from the modern audience. This show will not only highlight the incredible abilities of women overlooked, but the fact that those incredible women are still fighting the same fight today.

What to watch for

As history’s first female professional poet, Emilia Lanier’s groundbreaking book of poems “Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum” was published in 1611.

Playwright Morgan Lloyd Malcolm told the Globe, “‘Emilia’ is by far the most complex play I’ve tried to write” because it has so many layers. Malcolm had to contend with balancing the historical truth of Emilia’s relationship to Shakespeare while also incorporating new research into the feminism and racial constructs of the time period.

For such a complex play, “Emilia” was conceived and written in a very short time span. After the Globe Theatre commissioned Malcolm to write a play, she only had one year from making the arrangement with the theatre until the first performance to write and develop the entire work.

Run time

Approx 2hrs 30mins (inc interval)

Start date

March 8th, 2019

End date

June 1st, 2019




Vaudeville Theatre


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