Artist's Statement: Jessica Collett on feminism, fluff and Tudor Queens

| 05 September 2014

Artist's Statement: Jessica Collett on the power of the Tudor dynasty and the psychological impact of being a female royal

An image of an illustration of a young Tudor Queen
Mother, Crone, Maiden opens at the Bluecoat gallery in Liverpool later this month© Courtesy Page to Stage
“As a young feminist with an interest in women’s history – and how it is often considered superfluous and unnecessary – I wanted to explore the real emotions behind genuine historical figures.

The Tudor dynasty is incredibly popular, but its examination in media is often based on fluffy romances and who is going to bed with whom.

Mother, Crone, Maiden aims to look at the psychological impact of being a royal woman in an age where political failure resulted in a swift and sharp end.

It is a short play of three monologues as part of the Page to Stage Festival in Liverpool. The Tudor dynasty may have ruled for only a little over 100 years, but their impact on history and popular culture is unmeasurable.

Yet we see them as being little more than icons of their age, emotionless and blank, their actions and emotions tightly bound and defined by their histories.

What were their secret fears, their innermost defeats, their private victories? Behind the public mask of state, how did they experience of the most dangerous and tumultuous parts of their lives?

In this play, Elizabeth of York, Mary I, and Elizabeth I confess their private fears to the audience. This is not the safe, staid history of period dramas and pleasant historical fiction.

This aims to be a raw and introspective look at the women of a tumultuous and murderous dynasty, who have had to fight through unimaginable horrors for a chance of safety and a fragment of power.

The English crown is heavy with conflict and it is the women who must suffer the most. The play was developed in my third year; I specialised in the reign of Henry VIII, and as a writer, I was annoyed with how the Tudors are portrayed in fiction.

Teleology is where historical analysed is based on how you know events are going to happen - this makes reading fiction about the period really frustrating because people never really know how their lives are going to turn out.

I wanted to explore psychological sides of the Queens that are rarely explored and try to present them as being as different from the cultural norm as possible.”

  • Mother, Crone, Maiden is at The Bluecoat, Liverpool on September 17 2014, then various venues until September 25. Find out more.

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