by DAVID GRIMM
MONDAY, APRIL 3, 2023 | 7:30 PM ET
POLONSKY SHAKESPEARE CENTER
262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY, 11217
Directed by EMMA ROSA WENT
Featuring b, Tina Benko, Helen Cespedes, Mo Gooding-Silverwood, Amy Jo Jackson, Merritt Janson, Rami Margron, Yasmin Pascall, Sushma Saha, Han Van Sciver, and Ching Valdes-Aran.
Set in the seedy underworld of Elizabethan England, the story of the meteoric rise and fall of Christopher Marlowe – playwright, poet, spy, and sexual outlaw – charts the ambitions of youth in a cold and unforgiving world. Performed by an all women and non-binary company, director Emma Rosa Went seeks to reinvigorate the play's radical and provocative landscape, by giving a new generation of queer artists access to its explosive and urgent questions about art, love, depravity, redemption, and the cost of genius.
ABOUT THE PLAY
Originally produced at the Public Theatre in 2000, Kit Marlowe refracts the life story of its title character, the Elizabethan playwright whose talent and potential rivaled Shakespeare’s, through the lens of the writer’s own most famous play, about a man who makes a deal with the devil.
Bold, reckless, and blazingly talented, Kit Marlowe intends to make a name for himself no matter the cost. Duty-bound and cautious, his best friend Thomas Walsingham just wants to ensure they both are able to live safe, comfortable lives—but he can never resist being pulled back into Kit’s orbit. Kit uses their friendship to reach out to Thomas’s uncle, the spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham, who is more than happy to direct Kit’s ambitions to his own ends.
Kit, however, is not the type to be blindly loyal to anything, including the crown. He treasures his burgeoning literary career and idolizes Sir Walter Raleigh, whose wavering place in the queen’s favor has put him in danger—from Walsingham. And tied deep within this knot of conflicting loyalties is Thomas, who is pulled farther and farther into a life of numbing duty, as the fraying connection between two young men slowly becomes the only thing that might be able to save them both. But in this world of honor and espionage, bargains must be kept, and the price for breaking a promise may be far more than just your life.
ABOUT CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE
Christopher Marlowe was born in 1564 in Canterbury, England. His father was a shoemaker, but he was awarded scholarships to pursue his education, including studying at Cambridge. An odd incident surrounding the award of his degree is the first hint in the historical record that Marlowe’s life may not have been all it seemed: the Privy Council was required to intervene to ensure it was awarded on time, as the university suspected Marlowe held Catholic sympathies, and might intend to take his new education to France to plot against the crown. The Privy Council assured the university that this was not the case, and that the degree must be awarded. They wrote that “it was not her Majesty’s pleasure that anyone employed as he had been in matters touching the benefit of his country should be defamed by those that are ignorant in th’affairs he went about.” The most common interpretation of this letter is that Marlowe was engaged in some kind of espionage on behalf of the crown during his time at Cambridge, but it is impossible to know for sure.
Rumors of treason and heresy continued to dog Marlowe even as he moved to London and found success as a poet and a playwright, writing for the Lord Admiral’s Men and their hugely popular leading man, Edward Alleyn. Few details are known about his life at this time, but his literary works drew upon an eclectic range of sources, from Greek mythology to English history to current events.
In 1593, a warrant was produced for Marlowe’s arrest due to potential connections to anti-refugee propaganda and to a heretical letter found in the rooms of his friend and collaborator Thomas Kyd, who claimed it belonged to Marlowe. Marlowe was ordered to report to the Privy Council, but before he could appear before them, he was killed in a fight in Deptford. Supposedly an argument over a tavern bill, the participants’ connections to the world of Elizabethan espionage have long raised suspicions that there was more to the murder than witnesses were willing to tell.
–HAILEY BACHRACH | Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Roehampton
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
David Grimm is a Brooklyn-based award-winning playwright and screenwriter. His plays include Ibsen in Chicago (Seattle Rep.); a new adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac (Perseverance Theatre); Tales From Red Vienna (Manhattan Theatre Club); Measure for Pleasure (Public Theater; Bug ’n Bub Award; GLAAD Media Award nominee, Outstanding New York Theater, Broadway and Off-Broadway); The Miracle at Naples (Huntington; Best New Play IRNE Award); Steve & Idi (Rattlestick); Chick (Hartford Stage); The Learned Ladies of Park Avenue (Hartford Stage); Kit Marlowe (Public Theater; GLAAD Media Award nominee, Outstanding New York Theater, Broadway and Off-Broadway); Sheridan, Or Schooled In Scandal (La Jolla); Enough Rope (Williamstown Theatre Festival, starring Elaine Stritch), and Susanna Centlivre's The Gaming Table (for which he wrote additional material; Folger Library Theatre).
Shorter works include Oriflamme (part of The Acting Company’s Desire: Short Plays Adapted from the Works of Tennessee Williams); the song cycle Boxes, Buckets & Bags (music by Peter Golub; featured in Liederabend @ The Kitchen); Divinity du Styx (24 Hour Plays); Brooklyn Evening (One Minute Play Festival); À la Recherche du Frank Perdue (Red Bull Theater’s Verse Play Festival); Their Sabbath Passeth in Disgrace or, 'Tis Pity She's a Roast (New York Theatre Workshop’s Verse Slam); Version Mary (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater for Jack Ferver and Bradford Louryk); A Christmas Golem (Guthrie and Minnesota Public Radio); and others.
Grimm’s film work includes the dialogue for Matthew Barney’s "River of Fundament." His work for television includes “The Exorcist” (FOX Television, Seasons 1 and 2) and “NOS4A2” (AMC, Season 2).
As an actor, David’s credits include J. Julian Christopher's Locusts Have No King (INTAR), Farquar's Restoration comedy The Constant Couple, Mucerdorus or, The Shepherd Prince (Red Heel at Westbeth), William Bell by Alejandro Morales, and as Steve in his own play Steve & Idi (Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre). David also appears in Matthew Barney's "River of Fundament" as the bartender at Norman Mailer's wake.
David is the recipient of an NEA/TCG Residency Grant and has received commissions from The Public Theater, Roundabout Theatre Company, Seattle Rep., Huntington Theatre Company, Hartford Stage, and Pittsburgh’s City Theatre Company. He has developed work at the Sundance Theatre Lab, Old Vic New Voices, and New York Stage & Film. David holds an MFA from NYU, a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, and has lectured in Playwriting and Screenwriting at the Yale School of Drama, Brown University, Columbia University, and NYU.