Troubador Portraying Elizabeth

Released: 28/06/2020

ISBN: 9781789018615

Format: Hardback

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Portraying Elizabeth

Elizabeth I on stage & screen and the actresses who have played her


The role of Elizabeth I on stage and screen has been deciphered, unravelled and decoded in a variety of forms: villainess, martyr, heroine and sometimes even comic turn. One fact, though, is clear: Elizabeth is reinterpreted in every age, and is therefore always updating, sometimes becoming the fashion, on occasion going out of fashion, but ultimately never losing our interest. 

In the time span covered in this book, 1912 to the present day, it is apparent that casting an actress as Elizabeth more often depends more upon her bankability at the box office, and the public’s perception of her character, than her physical resemblance or even suitability to the role. Yet these casting choices have given us some of our most memorable Queens, such as Bette Davis and Cate Blanchett.

These choices have led to some absorbing results and some unexpected problems. It is worth pondering that as Elizabeth has become more accessible - and supposedly understood - she has also become more romantic, sexual, humane, vulnerable and even ordinary. But by making her more real in our modern eyes, acceptable to our modern notion and understanding of behaviour, have we actually grown further from the real woman? 

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Anton Burge

Writer and actor Anton Burge has written ten plays championing the need for roles for women in theatre, all focusing on the lives of celebrated women of the 19th and 20th centuries. These include 'Bette & Joan', starring Greta Scacchi and Anita Dobson; 'Storm in a Flower Vase' and Mrs. Pat', starring Dame Penelope Keith. 'Year of the Virgin' is his most recent and first contemporary work. His plays are published by Samuel French and 'Portraying Elizabeth', a study of interpretations of Queen Elizabeth I is his fourth book, it includes interviews with: Glenda Jackson, Dame Eileen Atkins, Dame Harriet Walter and Miranda Richardson. A biography of Bette Davis will be published in 2022.

Anton Burge
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