Every June, members of The Shakespeare Institute read aloud, in chronological order, the complete dramatic canon of a sixteenth- or early seventeenth-century playwright. The exercise enables us to observe, in concentrated form, the development of a single dramatist’s imagination and technique, and to experience a large number of neglected plays by a significant talent of the Shakespearian era. 

In previous years we have read the plays of John Fletcher, Thomas Heywood, James Shirley and Thomas Dekker.  This year we turn to Philip Massinger.

Best known for his comedy A New Way to Pay Old Debts and his tragedy The Roman Actor, Massinger began to write plays at around the time Shakespeare retired, and by the end of the decade he was acknowledged as a technical master of the art.  He was also one of the most politically and constitutionally engaged dramatists in a period of deepening crisis in England; with their trenchant critiques of landed wealth, official corruption, and inappropriate government policies, his work frequently ran into censorship difficulties.

The Marathon will take place in the Reading Room at The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon.  All are welcome to attend for some or all of the readings, but if you are not already known to the Institute, please make arrangements in advance by contacting the organizer, Dr Martin Wiggins (m.j.wiggins@bham.ac.uk). 

The schedule is as follows:

 Monday 11 June

  • 10:30 The Honest Man's Fortune
  • 14:30 Love's Cure
  • 19:00 Beggars' Bush

Tuesday 12 June

  • 14:30 The Queen of Corinth
  • 19:00 Rollo

Wednesday 13 June

  • 10:30 Thierry and Theodoret
  • 14:30 The Elder Brother

Thursday 14 June

  • 14:30 The Knight of Malta
  • 19:00 The Fatal Dowry

Friday 15 June

  • 10:30 Sir John van Oldenbarnevelt
  • 14:30 The Custom of the Country

Saturday 16 June

  • 10:30 The Laws of Candy
  • 14:30 The Little French Lawyer

Monday 18 June

  • 10:30 The False One
  • 14:30 The Virgin Martyr
  • 19:00 The Duke of Milan

Tuesday 19 June

  • 14:30 The Double Marriage
  • 19:00 The Prophetess

Wednesday 20 June

  • 10.30 The Sea Voyage
  • 14:30 The Spanish Curate

Thursday 21 June

  • 14:30 A Very Woman
  • 19:00 The Bondman

Friday 22 June

  • 10:30 The Renegado
  • 14:30 The Parliament of Love

Saturday 23 June

  • 10:30 The Fair Maid of the Inn
  • 14:30 A New Way to Pay Old Debts

Monday 25 June

  • 10:30 The Unnatural Combat
  • 14:30 The Roman Actor
  • 19:00 The Great Duke of Florence

Tuesday 26 June

  • 14:30 The Picture
  • 19:00 The Maid of Honour

Wednesday 27 June

  • 9:15-10:15 Lecture: Believe As You List and the New World Order 
  • 10:30 Believe as You List
  • 14:30 The Emperor of the East

Thursday 28 June

  • 14:30 The City Madam
  • 19:00 The Guardian

Friday 29 June

  • 10:30 The Lover's Progress (revised)
  • 14:30 The Bashful Lover