IU Theatre’s Duchess of Malfi tale of independence, betrayal, bloody REVENGE

Jan 12, 2017

Bloomington, Ind – Indiana University Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance with a boldly realized production of John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi. With an action-packed plot, lyrical language, and compelling characters, Webster’s Jacobean masterpiece is considered one of the greatest tragedies of Renaissance drama.

The Duchess of Malfi, written in 1612-1613, was originally staged by William Shakespeare’s acting company, The King’s Men, at the Globe Theatre, just a few years before Shakespeare’s death. The plot centers around a duchess who marries beneath her class and her villainous brothers who take revenge on her, leading to a body count that would make Hamlet proud. It remains a popular play to this day, and was staged once again at Shakespeare’s Globe in London in 2014, starring Gemma Arterton in the title role.

The IU production will be the MFA thesis production of director Katie Horwitz, known for her innovative staging of Antigone last season. “It’s a lean, classical script that is heavy in deep characters, drama, and action and has themes that are incredibly relevant today, like female autonomy,” says Horowitz. With Antigone, Horwitz integrated contemporary dance elements in to the production with great success, and in The Duchess of Malfi she will again explore interdisciplinary territory by incorporating original music by Butler composers Rob Funkhauser & Emily Yoo, played live in the performance.

The production will also serve as the MFA thesis project for 3rd year actor Jason Craig West, who will play the scheming Bosolo. “He isn’t a cookie cutter character,” West says. “He’s no angel, but he’s definitely not a devil. He’s somewhere in the middle, which makes him extremely complex and interesting to play. I think he’s unique in that way.”

The cast also features MFA actors Chris J. Handley (Antonio) and Tino Brokaw (Cardinal), and undergraduate seniors Emily Sullivan (Duchess) and Ryan Claus (Ferdinand).

The design team includes Alana Yurczyk (Scenic Design), Emmie Phelps (Costume Design), and Tony Stoeri (Lighting Design).

The Duchess of Malfi is a ruthless and daring play that has well earned its place in the canon of theatre history, and its powerful message is as relatable today as ever.

WHATThe Duchess of Malfi, presented by IU Theatre

WHEN: Feb. 3 – Feb. 11, 2016

WHERE: Wells-Metz Theatre, Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave.