Posts Tagged ‘Darren Freebury-Jones’


Playing Fluellen: An Auckland Actor Blogs for @CardiffShakes

January 11, 2016



An Auckland actor blogs about her experience playing Fluellen in Auckland New Zealand’s all-female Henry V, which is to be performed at Pop-up Globe in February, 2016.

1. Discovery
Reading Henry V in preparation for the audition I was transported back to my seventh form year twenty five years ago when I first read the play and was introduced to the character of Captain Fluellen. Our English teacher was a passionate Shakespearean tutor who, when reading aloud, showcased Fluellen’s wonderful depth of character and unintended comedy and relished the mispronunciation of bs as ps that Shakespeare uses to caricature Fluellen’s Welshness.

When I heard that a Pop-up Globe was going to be built in Auckland, I was desperate to be a part of it. Director Grae Burton approached Dr Miles Gregory with a proposition to stage an all-female Henry V in conjunction with the predominantly male shows already planned. The proposal was accepted and there are now a total of 8 Shakespearean plays to be staged at the venue by various companies over the summer period. Our production of Henry V will play at three or four venues in total, with four of those nights scheduled at Pop-up Globe.

Our rehearsal period is incredibly tight for such an epic play and lines have had to be learnt in the Christmas break in preparation for our first read-through this coming weekend. It’s been an absolute pleasure to study Fluellen and fall deeper in love with him. His lectorial nature belies an incredibly loyal heart. He is scrupulously honest and prepared to think the best of people unless proven otherwise. His initial perception of the unsavoury Ancient Pistol as being ‘as valiant a man as Mark Antony’, despite being a man of ‘no estimation in the world’ conveys his lack of snobbery and judgement, one of his most endearing qualities. Moreover, he is unafraid of confrontation and quite prepared to tackle issues with people head-on, relishing debate and argument. I personally love the way Shakespeare has drawn the relationship between Fluellen and Gower. The latter is somewhat subjugated, patiently enduring Fluellen’s patronising lectures in the disciplines of war. This initially tricks the audience into believing Fluellen thinks little of his fellow captain when in fact the opposite is true; he can’t speak highly enough of him to others but nor can he censor his own preachiness in his colleague’s company.

Thanks to an audio file of Fluellen’s lines from Cardiff actor and early modern researcher Darren Freebury-Jones, I have an authentic Welsh accent to strive towards and look forward to getting stuck into rehearsals. More on those later!

Kate Watson




The Finale to The Adventures of Christopher Marlowe!

February 26, 2015

Posted on February 26, 2015 by

The final instalment in Darren Freebury-Jones’ The Adventures of Christopher Marlowe trilogy is now available on Amazon Kindle here.


The Engines of War have a new leader in Richard Bancroft, who sends a team of bloody assassins to Turkey in search of the Quill of Herodotus, an ancient artefact with the power to transcend time itself.

Christopher ‘Kit’ Marlowe travels to London to gain the aid of the famous playwright, William Shakespeare. Together they brave erupting volcanoes, tempests at sea, and the deadly machinations of the mercenary, Aaron Valdes, who has a unique way of butchering his victims…

Marlowe finds himself on the most violent, action-packed mission of his career. But in this instalment, will The Engines of War prove fatal for him?




September 10, 2014

Kit Marlowe and the Demon Legion

Writing The Adventures of Christopher Marlowe trilogy was something of a literary experiment. In my academic work at Cardiff University, I employ plagiarism software to detect collocations shared between Shakespeare and his contemporaries, such as Peele, Kyd and, indeed, my dashing protagonist, Marlowe. My examinations of such phrases used by Elizabethan dramatists enable me to form theories concerning collaboration, authorial imitation and authorship.

I have always been fascinated by collaboration, and the ways in which authors, according to accommodation theory, consciously or unconsciously echo each other’s portions. I asked a fellow indie author, Robert NC Thomas, to collaborate with me on the first book in the series, Kit Marlowe and the Demon Legion, because he was far more experienced in the action/adventure genre than I was, and I have long been an admirer of his writing style. We have collaborated on many projects together, including a radio parody of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and a screwball noir comedy for Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Satan Met a Shamus. We therefore have intimate knowledge of each other’s strengths and weaknesses as writers.

Using plagiarism software and our respective portions for the first book (as well as his book Rupert Pinter and the Curse of the Tuatha De Danann, and my own first venture into fiction, Cinnamon Twigs: The Life and Pseudocide of a Celebrity), I was able to detect idiolectic formations that distinguished our authorial styles. This enabled me to consciously imitate his style in an attempt to unify the book, although inevitable difficulties arose in characterisation and plot consistency at times. We had met up to plot the story in our favourite pub, The Woodville, and decided that we would assign respective chapters between us, and I would subsequently edit them. There is only one chapter in Kit Marlowe and the Demon Legion that melds our individual passages, but it is far too much to hope that one day attribution scholars will attempt to distinguish our hands! This process of collaboration gave me insights into the ways Elizabethan co-authors might have worked.

In the knowledge of my collaborator’s phrasal repetends, I was able to maintain the authorial voice of the first book when I came to write its prequel/sequel, Kit Marlowe and the Doomsday Fleet, solo. By time I came to the third book in the trilogy, Kit Marlowe and the Fatal Engines of War (forthcoming), I was able to unconsciously assimilate many of Robert NC Thomas’s phrasal structures into my own work. Furthermore, I strove to link the language of the books to the works of Shakespeare, Marlowe and company, so that you could say the whole trilogy is permeated by a plethora of authorial voices. I hope fans of Marlowe and Shakespeare will enjoy the reading experience; there are plenty of knowing winks throughout these stories. I am very grateful to Robert NC Thomas for his help on the first book, and to Charlotte ‘Meg’ Smith for her lovely artwork.

Academia aside, the books, though extremely violent and dark in parts (much like Elizabethan and Jacobean dramas), are good fun and are interlaced with comedy. A lot of research has gone into developing the characters, based on historical material concerning figures such as Marlowe, Kyd, John Whitgift and Francis Walsingham. I have taken liberties at times for the sake of adventure and readership, and Marlowe’s musings on his fellow lodger’s dramatic corpus are somewhat subjective and based on my support for Brian Vickers’ work on Thomas Kyd’s extended canon.

I would be incredibly grateful if readers of Cardiff Shakespeare could download these books, available on Amazon Kindle for just 77p each, and hopefully enjoy these short, easy (and admittedly rather silly!) reads.


Kit Marlowe and the Demon Legion: The Adventures of Christopher Marlowe (Book 1)

Available for download at:


Christopher ‘Kit’ Marlowe, poet and spy, is sent to investigate the villainous Barnaby Ithamore, who intends to raise an army of demons from hell in order to destroy the world. In this pulse-pounding action/adventure story, the swashbuckling hero, armed with his trusty rapier, undergoes a breathless voyage across Elizabethan England, Spain, Italy and Germania, concluding in an explosive climax off the coast of Portugal… James Bond’s world of espionage meets the dark age of William Shakespeare in this unforgettable first book in The Adventures of Christopher Marlowe series.


Kit Marlowe and the Doomsday Fleet: The Adventures of Christopher Marlowe (Book 2) [Kindle Edition]

Available for pre-order at:


The Adventures of Christopher Marlowe continue in this thrilling prequel/sequel to Kit Marlowe and the Demon Legion! It is the eve of the Spanish Armada, and Marlowe is eager to join his comrades at Plymouth and wage war against Catholic Spain. However, his boss, the spymaster Francis Walsingham, has other plans, and sends him on a mundane mission to Linlithgow, in Scotland, to judge where the Scottish King stands on Protestantism… Marlowe soon finds that danger is never far away though, and, in the company of the beautiful heroine Chyna Dahl, pits himself against three deadly witches and an army of the dead. His mission leads him to the White Cliffs of Dover, and to an unexpected, devastating showdown… Hilarious, yet dark and extremely violent, Kit Marlowe and the Doomsday Fleet is an adventure like no other.

Darren Freebury-Jones




Cardiff Shakespeare has a new twitter account – at the same handle @CardiffShakes. Please re-follow!


No Need for Uneasiness: A Review of William Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Performed by the University of South Wales

June 4, 2014

By Darren Freebury-Jones

Henry IV University of South Wales 2014

I have, during the course of writing my thesis at Cardiff University, been immersed in Shakespeare’s early plays, such as the Henry VI trilogy, and have analysed his style in the context of imitation and collaboration. It was therefore refreshing to see a production of a play in which Shakespeare refined the history genre and found his own distinct authorial voice, while surpassing the dramatic language of his contemporaries, such as Christopher Marlowe, George Peele and Thomas Kyd. I had no misgivings about the fact that the University of South Wales decided to conflate the first and second parts of Henry IV, for the first part would feel lost without its sequel, and the Dering manuscript, prepared around 1613, suggests that this was sometimes the case even in Shakespeare’s day. I was uneasy about the notion of modernising aspects of the play, given its emphasis on a span of history circa 1403, but more on that later… I do struggle with gender swapping in casting (a staple in student productions, it seems), unless it serves a dramatic or didactic purpose – with Henry Bolingbroke himself played by a woman here – but then I suppose this is a mere subversion of the all-male casting of Shakespeare’s theatre.

The play concerns the king’s struggle to maintain order in England, as factious rebels attack from across England, Wales and Scotland. This production began with the cast clutching at a crown that dangled above them, and from the off the emphasis was very much on the fact that ‘uneasy lies the head that wears’ the troublesome crown of England. In this respect, director Richard Hand’s thematic emphasis reminded me somewhat of Roman Polanski’s film version of the Scottish play. My uncertainties about the modernisation of Henry IV quickly dissipated during the anachronistic comic interchanges in which Sir John Falstaff is foiled by the seeming entrance of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. Or the superb scene in which Falstaff treated the audience to a rendition of another king, Elvis, which was, rather paradoxically, laced with poignancy, as other members of the cast attired themselves for war. Soon, there would be ‘no more cakes and ale’. Indeed, the first half, which was utterly hilarious, constantly foreshadowed the somberness of the play’s conclusion, and the director did a fantastic job in highlighting such ominous moments as Falstaff’s assertion that, ‘Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world’, followed by Hal’s gloomy response, ‘I do. I will’…

The cast, for the most part, did well in making Shakespeare’s sometimes knotted language accessible to the audience. Having worked with Scott Patrick before, I was delighted to discover that he was playing Falstaff, Shakespeare’s most revered comic creation perhaps, next to Bottom. The man’s side-splitting improvisations made me break character once in a production of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, so I expected big things, and (it’s safe to say) he certainly delivered. In fact, his presence often dominated the stage like a colossus, and this huge bombard of comic brilliance was complemented by evident understanding of the significance of certain speeches (and great subtlety), such as Falstaff’s catechism on the concept of honour. Simon King gave a very assured performance as the ruggedly handsome future king, and I must mention Poppy Sturgess as Mistress Quickly. She evinced great comic timing throughout her scenes and had a real natural flair for stage humour.

The second half, being more sombre, did not quite have the same impact as the first (a consensus long shared among literary critics regarding the second part of Henry IV), and this might have had something to do with the maladroitness of stage combat. Though Thomas Nashe praised the staging of ‘all stratagems of war’, Shakespeare’s fellow playwright Ben Jonson mocked actors who ‘with three rusty swords, And help of some few foot-and-half-foot words, Fight over York, and Lancaster’s long jars’. Still, the second half brought to fruition the banishment of Falstaff and the crowning of Harry, in an ambiguous resolution, which transcended jingoistic interpretations of Henry V. The audience left smiling, and I hope that the actors and crew enjoyed a great deal of sack in deserved celebration. As Shakespeare might say, they’re likely to have woken up in their drowsy beds recalling ‘a mass of things, but nothing distinctly’. The audience, and myself, won’t forget the details of this enchanting production anytime soon.


See the production flyer here.


Kit Marlowe and the Demon Legion: The Adventures of Christopher Marlowe (Book 1)

May 15, 2014

Kit Marlowe and the Demon Legion

Darren Freebury-Jones (a PhD student at Cardiff University) has recently co-authored a fiction book entitled:

Kit Marlowe and the Demon Legion.

Christopher ‘Kit’ Marlowe, poet and spy, is sent to investigate the villainous Barnaby Ithamore, who intends to raise an army of demons from hell in order to destroy the world. In this pulse-pounding action/adventure story, the swashbuckling hero, armed with his trusty rapier, undergoes a breathless voyage across Elizabethan England, Spain, Italy and Germania, concluding in an explosive climax off the coast of Portugal… James Bond’s world of espionage meets the dark age of William Shakespeare in this unforgettable first book in The Adventures of Christopher Marlowe series.

Download the kindle edition from amazon here.


William Shakespeare & Others: Book Review

December 4, 2013

A review by Darren Freebury-Jones.


The first thing that strikes me about this edition is the duplicitous title: William Shakespeare & Others: Collaborative Plays. One might expect a series of plays that have, due to a number of authorship tests, been assigned with confidence to Shakespeare as collaborative works: Titus Andronicus, Henry VI Part One, Edward III, Sir Thomas More, Timon of Athens, Pericles, Prince of Tyre, Henry VIII, The Two Noble Kinsmen and the 1602 fourth quarto version of The Spanish Tragedy (the latter, like Sir Thomas More and Henry VI Part One, is not considered an ‘orthodox’ collaboration, but rather a revised text). How wonderful it would have been for such a volume, accompanied with essays exploring the differences between imitation, influence and authorship, the impact collaboration could have on staging (a director might consider the symmetrically patterned staging involved in Peele’s opening act of Titus Andronicus, or inconsistencies in character due to different dramatists’ hands) and a sensible overview of attribution studies and its development. Instead we get a volume in which Jonathan Bate, previously reluctant to acknowledge Shakespearean collaboration, compiles apocryphal plays.[i]

The blurb (and publicity surrounding this book) states confidently that Shakespeare’s hand can be detected in Arden of Faversham. I myself have analysed the famous quarrel scene in this play and detected numerous distinct collocation matches with Thomas Kyd’s accepted works, as well as plays in Brian Vickers’ ‘extended’ canon.[ii] Vickers’ results, however, are frequently snubbed in this edition, as insecurely attributed. Vickers’ methodology of collecting ‘partly idiosyncratic formations’, encompassing verbal and semantic patterns, often in the context of verse structure, is the most advanced and reliable authorship test currently available I feel (a view, I realise, that conflicts with exponents of the status quo ante bellum), and it would have been nice if his findings had been explicated here. Nevertheless, the edition never really takes sides when you delve inside anyway. Will Sharpe touches upon MacDonald P. Jackson’s views[iii] in his essay within the book, ‘Authorship and Attribution’ but concludes, frustratingly, that the domestic tragedy can be deemed ‘one of the finest plays that a young Shakespeare, possibly, never wrote’.[iv] This extent of ambiguity and an unwillingness to expand properly upon opposing scholarly arguments leaves one to ponder what the real purpose of compiling these plays was in the first place. Why works such as Thomas Middleton’s A Yorkshire Tragedy are included, and The Merry Devil of Edmonton is patently rejected, is anybody’s guess.

Redeeming features include emboldened text demonstrating additions to The Spanish Tragedy and Mucedorus. Sir Thomas More makes for an enjoyable reading experience that isn’t disrupted by attempts to replicate the extant manuscript copy, as can be seen in the Oxford Complete Works, second edition. Sir Thomas More is presented as a unified piece of theatre, which is, of course, the fundamental objective of collaboration, and that is commendable. Furthermore (whether by Shakespeare or Kyd), Arden of Faversham deserves to be read and The Spanish Tragedy has every right to be added to the canon as a Shakespearean revision. The presentation of all the plays is excellent and suitably edited for performance, while the interviews by Peter Kirwan give the reader a refreshing insight into the staging of frequently neglected plays.[v]

Unfortunately, from a scholarly perspective, William Shakespeare & Others: Collaborative Plays provides an unsatisfying exploration of models of authorship, while its publication and the way in which its compositors have promoted themselves with talk of fingerprints and decisive evidence (surely confusing for the general public, caught in the cross-fire of affirmation and rejection) cannot be deemed healthy for modern attribution studies.

Visit the publisher’s website here.

Darren Freebury-Jones is a PhD candidate at Cardiff University specialising in imitation and collaboration in Shakespeare’s early plays.

[i] Bate’s recognition of Shakespearean co-authorship through literary fingerprints contrasts somewhat with his prior assertion that ‘with all the arguments based on verbal parallels’ Shakespearean ‘imitation is always as likely as authorship’. Titus Andronicus: New Arden Shakespeare (London: Arden Shakespeare, 1995), p.82.
[ii] Brian Vickers, ‘Thomas Kyd, Secret Sharer’, Times Literary Supplement, 13th April, pp. 13-15.
[iii] Jackson first argued for Shakespeare’s hand in this play in 1963. See MacDonald P. Jackson, ‘Material for an edition of Arden of Faversham’ (B.Litt. thesis: Oxford University, 1963).
[iv] Will Sharpe, ‘Authorship and Attribution’, in William Shakespeare & Others: Collaborative Plays (London: Palgrave Macmillian, 2013).
[v] ‘From Script to Stage: Interviews by Peter Kirwan’, in William Shakespeare & Others: Collaborative Plays (London: Palgrave Macmillian, 2013).

Also recently published by Palgrave: The Creation and Re-creation of Cardenio: Performing Shakespeare, Transforming Cervantes (2013) “Did Shakespeare really join John Fletcher to write Cardenio, a lost play based on Don Quixote? In 2009, the world’s first academic symposium dedicated to the “lost play” was convened in New Zealand. Since then, a flurry of activity has confirmed the play’s place in the literary canon. Drawing on cutting-edge scholarship and organized around the first full-scale production of Gary Taylor’s recreation of the Jacobean play, these sixteen essays suggest the play was not “lost” but was instead deliberately “disappeared” because of its controversial treatment of race and sexuality. Breaking new ground, this collection gives equal attention to Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Fletcher. With an emphasis on the importance of theatrical experiment and performance, a copy of Taylor’s script, a photographic record of Bourus’s production, and historical research by respected scholars in the fields of early modern England and Spain, this book makes a bold and definitive statement about the collaborative nature of Cardenio.” Find out more here.
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