24 February 2023 / News

The Rose Playhouse hosts a talk on Christopher Marlowe

“Marlowe’s The Massacre at Paris and England’s ambivalent relationship with her Huguenot allies” — a talk by Joanne Hill, editor of the Marlowe Society UK

Tuesday, 28 February at 7.30 pm, online via Zoom; tickets are available from TryBooking for £6/£5 (Friends)

The Massacre at Paris is Marlowe’s most violent play. It depicts the slaughter of the Huguenots in Paris by the extreme Catholic League on St. Bartholomew’s Day in 1572, and it paints a picture of the horror that could unfold in England if her key Protestant ally in France, Henry of Navarre, is unable to stop the League’s expansion. Despite the ever-present threat of invasion, however, Elizabeth’s subjects disagreed about how much financial and military support England should send to the new French king. Contemporary debates over foreign policy reflected the deep theological divisions within Protestantism, which Marlowe captures in his ambiguous characterisation of Navarre.

This talk considers the significance of the historical and religious context to an understanding of The Massacre, before examining some key scenes from the play. The talk will look at how Marlowe’s audiences might have viewed the Huguenots in the drama and how their perceptions could have been influenced by their religious beliefs, memories of fighting on the Continent, and experiences of living and working with refugees from the French Wars of Religion. The Massacre is also particularly relevant for modern audiences. What parallels can be drawn with England’s approach to military conflicts in the world today?

Organised by The Rose Playhouse

Photo by Roberto Piwko, for The Dolphin’s Back theatre company, 2014.