In-Person & Streaming
THE DUCHESS OF MALFI
by JOHN WEBSTER
Recorded November 14, 2022
This event premiered LIVE on November 14th. The performance was simulcast. A recording was available Sunday, November 20th.
Directed by Jesse Berger
Featuring Shirine Babb, Kelley Curran, Gerrard James, Maurice Jones, Alfredo Narciso, Bhavesh Patel, Amelia Pedlow, Lorenzo Pisoni, Matthew Rauch, Derek Smith, Raphael Nash Thompson, and Nathan Winkelstein.
A great romance turns to horror as the Duchess of Malfi seeks true love in a world of forbidden passions. This explosive drama of Italian intrigue examines sexual repression, honor, class, and the true value of the human spirit.
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CAST OF CHARACTERS in order of appearance
Antonio | Alfredo Narciso
Delio | Bhavesh Patel
Daniel de Bosola | Matthew Rauch
Cardinal of Aragon | Derek Smith
Ferdinand | Lorenzo Pisoni
Castruccio | Raphael Nash Thompson
Malateste | Maurice Jones
Roderigo | Gerrard James
Duchess of Malfi | Kelley Curran
Cariola | Shirine Babb
Julia | Amelia Pedlow
Servants, Guards, Lords, Ladies, Children, and Lunatics played by the Company.
Director | Jesse Berger
Stage Manager | Jenn McNeil
Assistant Stage Manager | Jessica Fornear
Video Services | Merelis Productions, Inc.
Producing Director | Nathan Winkelstein
General Manager | Sherri Kotimsky
ABOUT THE PLAY
In Renaissance tragedy, women who assert their sexual independence often meet a bad end: think of Juliet, Gertrude, Desdemona, and Cleopatra. Webster’s Duchess of Malfi, who secretly marries her steward in defiance of her brothers’ commandments, could be placed in this company, but she also has a unique status as a titular tragic hero, a status she earns through the conviction of her right to act on her erotic desires. This is not to claim that The Duchess of Malfi (1614) is concerned with sexuality alone. If Webster is drawing from love tragedy such as Romeo and Juliet and Othello, he is also drawing on the theatrical styles and ideological concerns of violent revenge tragedy such as Hamlet, of sentimental domestic tragedy such as Heywood’s A Woman Killed with Kindness, and of political tragedy such as King Lear. In the Duchess’ bold assertion of will—“If all my royal kindred / Lay in my way unto this marriage, / I’d make them my low footsteps”—Webster even echoes Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, the archetype of aggressive masculine ambition.
The rich theatrical legacy Webster weaves into his tragedy contributes to the fascinating complexity of the Duchess’ character. Citing the Renaissance stereotype of the “lusty widow,” some have found that the play condemns the Duchess for indulging her imprudent passion for a servant. Although the Duchess conceals her marriage to Antonio for many years, her subjection to p