Shakespeare’s brilliant contemporary and rival playwright, Christopher Marlowe, penned Edward II at the end of his brief life. Now, his vicious exploration of power and persuasion explodes on to the stage in this innovative promenade production, directed by The Hypocrites’ Sean Graney, where standing audience members are able—and encouraged—to move freely about the playing area throughout the 85-minute performance. Edward II marks a CST debut for both Marlowe and Graney.
Approximate Running Time: 85 minutes
Preview the Set and Costume Designs for Edward II
Edward II is presented in The Carl and Marilynn Thoma Theater.
King Edward II is overjoyed by the return of Piers Gaveston, once banished from England by Edward’s recently deceased father, Edward I. The nobles are enraged at the riches and attention that the king lavishes upon a commoner rather than tending to affairs of state. Most devastated by Edward’s neglect is Isabella, his queen. Mortimer, Lancaster and other noblemen force the king to banish Gaveston, but, hoping to gain her husband’s favor, Isabella intercedes on Gaveston’s behalf. Mortimer agrees only so that later he can have Gaveston murdered. When Edward refuses to ransom Mortimer’s uncle captured in battle, Mortimer finds an excuse to turn on Gaveston and have him executed.
Gaveston’s death sends Edward into the arms of Spencer, a gentleman who soon begins to take Gaveston’s place. The queen enters into an affair with Mortimer and, escaping with the prince—heir apparent to the throne—joins the rebels. Edward is captured and forced to abdicate in favor of his son, and Mortimer becomes lord protector. Murder and treason must be dealt with before Edward III becomes king.
– Contributed by the CST Education Department
A Scholar’s Perspective by Jeffrey Masten
Jeffrey Masten scrutinizes Edward II for radical possibilities and finds them in the depictions of sexuality, social class and kingship.
Recorded Excerpts from Talk Back Discussions
Post-show discussions with the cast are held after each Thursday performance. Recordings are updated throughout the run of the production.
Half-hour pre-show lectures are offered on selected weekend dates. Listen to a scholar give an overview of important scholarship and discuss some of the production choices.
Open Door: Audience Enrichment Programs
CST offers pre- and post-show programs with members of the cast or scholars: Pre•Ambles and Talk Backs.
A Brief History of the Play and Its Sources
Like Shakespeare, Marlowe drew inspiration for this historical play from Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, first printed in 1577.
After the first 50 years, Edward II disappeared from the stage for the next 250 and has only recently re-entered the repertoire.
These selected internet sites lead further into the exploration of Marlowe in performance, his life and times, the original texts, and more.
See who’s who among the actors, with their bios and headshots.
The Creative Team
See who’s who on the creative team—the director, designers and other artists who contribute to the creation of the world of the play.
Interview with Composer Kevin O’Donnell
Shortly before tech week, when the technical and design elements are integrated into the performance, Composer Kevin O’Donnell talked about composing the music for this revolutionary play.
From the Director
Director Sean Graney plans to keep the audience in the middle of the action using promenade staging.
Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
The creative team has envisioned an edgy and swift production for our times. Tony Award-winning Scenic Designer Todd Rosenthal designed the setting for this promenade staging of Edward II, where the actors and audience share the same space and the audience is free to move throughout the performance. Costume Designer Alison Siple has worked with Director Sean Graney since 2000, including numerous shows with The Hypocrites, where Graney is the founder and artistic director and Siple is a company member. She also was the costume assistant for a number of years at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.