Elizabeth I – In Her Own Words

About the show

What was Queen Elizabeth I really like? So many scholars have written about the monarch of Shakespeare’s time. But what if she were to magically appear before us today and share some of her most important stories of the people and events of her time? What would we see? What would we hear?
This show is grounded in research by leading Elizabeth I historian, Carole Levin. Levin has crafted a captivating dramatization of the illustrious person and the period. Tamara Meneghini brings the monarch to life weaving together excerpts from Shakespeare’s cannon, as performed by Bernadette Venters-Sefic. Elizabeth I – In Her Own Words promises to offer an intimate exploration of the queen, her upbringing, her life, loves and her connection to the beloved Bard.

Genre: Original work, integrated Elizabethan history and William Shakespeare
Show length: 55 minutes – no intermission

About the performers

Tammy Meneghini’s acting credits include (with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival) To Kill a Mockingbird, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, and The Fantastics; and also Gidion’s Knot, Master Class, Reason, The Visit, and Fiddler on the Roof. She was awarded the Denver Ovation Award for Best Solo Performance for her work on The Great Goddess Bazaar, which has toured extensively around the country as well as abroad.

Bernadette Venters-Sefic received her BFA in Performance from the University of Colorado Boulder. Some of her acting credits include Fefu in Fefu and Her Friends, Hermionie in the Winters Tale, and Matt Damon in Matt & Ben. She was a top finalist in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival’s prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Competition for two years in a row.

About the Director

Lynn Nichols has been a Ph. D. student at CU, a concessions worker, box office manager, general manager and casting director for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and a director and teacher of Shakespeare acting in the BFA program for the Department of Theatre and Dance, CU Boulder.

About the Playwright

Carole Levin, Willa Cather Professor of History and Director of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program at the University of Nebraska, is the author or editor of sixteen books, including The Heart and Stomach of a King: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power, The Reign of Elizabeth I, Dreaming the English Renaissance, and, most recently, the edited collection, Scholars and Poets Talk about Queens. She was senior historical consultant on the Newberry Library exhibit, Elizabeth I: Ruler and Legend, and in 2015 was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of York in England.

“I had the great pleasure of watching both performances of “Elizabeth I—In her Own Words” at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. I was mesmerized. The script skillfully, smartly, adroitly, stitches together remarks Elizabeth I made from the end of her reign, moving backwards through time, until she was a princess imprisoned in the Tower of London by her sister Mary. In the course of an hour, Carole Levin, the author of the play and somehow managed to capture and bring together Elizabeth’s entire life. The quotations from Elizabeth’s speech and writing are beautifully chosen, and juxtaposed with and illuminated by pertinent passages from Shakespeare’s plays. Levin, who is professor of early modern history at the University of Nebraska and the author of The Heart and Stomach of a King: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power, has deftly interwoven her own interpretation of Elizabeth’s unwavering desire to reign on her own, and in her own right, while at the same time remaining scrupulously faithful to Elizabeth’s own words.

The production was remarkable. The director, Lynn Nichols, was not present at Nebraska, but his intelligent choices and vision were visible throughout. Tamara Meneghini, who played Elizabeth, gave a wonderfully insightful and moving performance, as if she were inside Elizabeth’s head and skin. As the performance progressed, Meneghini removed pieces of the elaborately bejeweled dress Elizabeth wore as queen, leaving her by end of the play–and the beginning of Eelizabeth’s reign–in her undergarments, a vulnerable but savvy young woman facing a gargantuan challenge. Bernadette Sefic performed Elizabeth’s ladies in waiting with great skill, but her extraordinary acting talents emerged in the Shakespeare passages, each of which was performed with its own intensely felt and distinctive coloring.”

Ilona Bell
Williams College Professor of English, and author of “Elizabeth I: The Voice of a Monarch.”

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