The Duchess of Malfi 1975

As we prepare to welcome The Duchess of Malfi to Glasgow next month, our Heritage Archive and Exhibitions Officer Laura Stevens looks back at the play's history with the Citizens.



Suzanne Bertish in The Duchess of Malfi Feb 1975 (c) Dianne Tammes

The Duchess of Malfi
has an enduring legacy throughout British history. The original text, penned by John Webster, is considered a Jacobean classic and based upon the tragic real life of Giovanna d’Aragon, a member of the Napoleonian nobility in the 16th century. Her life had been the subject of other writers’ work but John Webster’s play captured the imagination, to become an enduring legacy.


The Citizens' Theatre Company,
courtesy of the Scottish Theatre Archive
 

The play was performed by the Citizens’ Theatre Company in early 1975.

The cast featured names that would become synonymous with the Citizens Theatre Company: David Hayman, Suzanne Bertish, Gerard Murphy and Laurance Rudic (who also performed in the 1986 adaptation of The Duchess of Malfi at the National Theatre).

David Hayman took on the role of Bosola with Suzanne Bertish playing the role of The Duchess herself as well as Gerard Murphy appearing as Death.


i - Jill Spurrier; ii - David Hayman with Jill Spurrier; iii - David Hayman in The Duchess of Malfi Feb 1975 (c) Dianne Tammes


On the production side, Philip Prowse played the dual role of director and designer. Prowse’s style can be clearly seen in the production photography with the lavish costumes, grand structures dominating the stage and skeletons decorating the set.

Suzanne Bertish with cast in The Duchess of Malfi Feb 1975 (c) Dianne Tammes

The success of Prowse’s production can be seen by his invitation to direct and design the 1986 production of The Duchess of Malfi at the National Theatre, by the acting troupe founded by Ian McKellen and Edward Petherbridge (the McKellen-Petherbridge Group). 


Newspaper Cutting Scrapbook September 1985 - October 1986 
As part of the Citizens Theatre redevelopment project we have been delving into our archives and have been able to digitise a selection of production photographs from the 1975 production of The Duchess. 


Suzanne Bertish with cast in The Duchess of Malfi Feb 1975 (c) Dianne Tammes

 Suzanne Bertish in The Duchess of Malfi Feb 1975 (c) Dianne Tammes

 L-R Suzanne Bertish, Gerard Murphy, Jill Spurrier in The Duchess of Malfi Feb 1975 (c) Dianne Tammes

This September, The Duchess returns to Glasgow as we are staging Zinnie Harris's fierce adaptation as part of our Citizens Women season. This unflinching, contemporary take on Webster's theatrical tale runs at Tramway 4 - 21 September.

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE


The Duchess [of Malfi] is a co-production with the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh

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