- Reading time
- 4 min.
In preparation for Bastarda, we present the historical figures featured in this production. Learn about the Tudors and the members of their court from portraits of our cast taken at La Monnaie, accompanied by a short biography.
Elizabeth I (1533-1603) / Elizabetta
Elizabeth was the last monarch of the Tudor dynasty to rule England. Her long reign on the throne helped strengthen her country in both political and economic terms, and culture flourished. At the end of her life and after her death, an iconographic cult was dedicated to her, symbolised by her image of the ‘Virgin Queen’.
She’s the main character in Bastarda. Our diptych tells a fictionalised version of her life, in part through the eyes of the young child she once was.
Anna Boleyn (1507-1536) / Anna Bolena
Anne Boleyn was the mother of Elizabeth I. The daughter of a prominent diplomat, she was educated in continental Europe. On her return to England she became lady-in-waiting to the queen, Catherine of Aragon. Henry VIII married her after his first marriage was annulled. When her husband starts courting another lady-in-waiting named Jane Seymour, Anne is accused of adultery and executed.
In Bastarda, apart from appearing in Elizabeth's memories, she acts as a symbol of maternal love and the trauma caused by her disappearance, an experience that continues to haunt her daughter.
Henry VIII (1491-1547) / Enrico
Henry VIII was the father of Elizabeth I. King of England from 1509 until his death, he is best known for his six marriages (following an annulment, a divorce, a natural death and two executions), his brutal authority, particularly over members of his court, and the creation of the Anglican Church after provoking a schism with the Catholic Church.
Another presence linked to Elizabeth’s memory, and another of her ‘inner voices’ in Bastarda, he represents the power – and violence – of royal authority.
Jane Seymour (1508/1509-1537) / Giovanna
Jane Seymour was the first stepmother of Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor, and the third wife of King Henry VIII. This former lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn belonged to a prestigious family in the English court. She died in childbirth a few days after giving birth to Edward VI, the son who Henry VIII so wanted to succeed him on the throne.
In Bastarda, the love triangle she forms with Henry and Anne foreshadows the various love affairs Elizabeth will herself be involved in.
Mary Stuart (1542-1587) / Maria Stuarda
Mary Stuart was Queen of Scots from 1542 until her forced abdication in 1567. She takes refuge with her distant cousin Elizabeth I, who sees her as a potential danger because of her claims to the English crown. After nineteen years in captivity, Mary is sentenced to death for her alleged involvement in an assassination plot against Elizabeth.
In Bastarda she is also portrayed as Elizabeth's rival in love with Leicester. Her execution, after years of doubt and consideration from Elizabeth, marks a decisive turning point in the narrative of our double production.
Amy Robsart (1532-1560) / Amelia
Amy Robsart is an Elizabethan noblewoman and the first wife of Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester and the Queen's favourite. When she is found dead at the foot of a staircase, with a broken neck and two head wounds, rumours circulate that Dudley murdered her so that he could marry Elizabeth. An investigation finally concludes that the death was accidental.
In Bastarda, her marriage to Leicester is kept secret. During a royal visit, her husband tells her to hide, but she wants to reveal everything to the queen, thereby taking the risk of provoking her fury.
Robert Dudley (1532/1533-1588), Earl of Leicester / Roberto
Robert Dudley is a member of Elizabeth I's inner circle, having known her since childhood. He is briefly considered as a candidate, not only for marriage to Elizabeth, but also to Mary Stuart. His career at court is contrasted between diplomatic successes and several military fiascos.
In Bastarda, Robert Dudley is very clearly presented as Elizabeth’s great love. He finds himself at the centre of two romantic intrigues.
Robert Devereux (1565-1601) / Roberto
Robert Devereux is the son of Walter Devereux and Lettice Knollys, the great niece of Anne Boleyn. After the death of Robert Dudley, he becomes a new favourite of Elizabeth I. A politically ambitious general, he takes part in a plot to overthrow the Queen in 1601 and is sentenced to death for high treason.
In Bastarda, he is mainly presented as Elizabeth's favourite and finds himself in a love triangle involving the fictional Sara, a lady of the royal retinue and Devereux’s mistress.
William Cecil (1520-1598) and his son Robert Cecil (1563-1612) / Cecil
William and Robert Cecil are two English statesmen who are among the most important advisers to Elizabeth I. During her reign, William holds various government positions. On his death, Robert immediately succeeds him as minister, a position he retained during the reign of James I.
In Bastarda, father and son are combined into one character, only called Cecil. He is one of the narrators of Elizabeth's life and symbolises the voice of reason.
Charles Howard (1536-1624), Earl of Nottingham / Nottingham
Charles Howard is an English magistrate and admiral. One of Elizabeth's closest advisors, he commands the English fleet in its victory against the Invincible Armada. He also takes part in the trials of Mary Stuart and Robert Devereux. It is he who receives the Queen's decision on her death to appoint James of Scotland as her successor.
In Bastarda, Nottingham is one of the narrators of Elizabeth's life. He also metaphorically embodies the theatre, providing the props for the various scenes and directing certain movements.
Mark Smeaton (1512-1536) / Smeton
Mark Smeaton (1512-1536) is a young singer and musician at the court of Henry VIII and a member of Anne Boleyn's entourage. Accused of an adulterous relationship with the queen, he is arrested and tortured. Although there is little evidence to support his guilt, his confession leads to the conviction of Anne Boleyn. He suffers the same fate as the latter and dies beheaded.
In Bastarda, Smeaton is one of the narrators of Elizabeth's life. In his capacity as an artist, he represents emotion.