Daniel’s Cleopatra and Lady Anne Clifford: From a Jacobean Portrait to Modern Performance
Keywords:Women and drama, female devisership, closet drama, neoclassical drama, Cleopatra, Samuel Daniel, Lady Anne Clifford, Mary Sidney Herbert
Recent interest in staging so-called ‘closet dramas’ by early modern women has bypassed Samuel Daniel’s Cleopatra, because of the author’s sex. Yet this play has strong female associations: it was commissioned by Mary Sidney Herbert, and is quoted in a Jacobean portrait of a woman (plausibly Lady Anne Clifford) in role as Cleopatra. We staged a Jacobean-style production of Cleopatra at Goodenough College, London, then a performance of selected scenes at Knole, Clifford’s home in Kent. This article presents the many insights gained about the dramatic power of the play and its significance in giving voices to women.
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