Press Release: Edith, Elizabeth and I at West Dean College, a fast moving one-woman show created by Jules Craig

The School of Creative Arts at West Dean College is proud to present an evening of theatre and literary history. Edith, Elizabeth and I, a fast-paced one woman show created by Jules Craig, writer and performer inspired by the life and works of the British poet Edith Sitwell, will be at the college for one performance only on Wednesday 2 November. The evening offers the audience a unique opportunity to see the performance in a historic house visited by the renowned poet and view items from the college's collection and archive including original correspondence between founder, Edward James and Dame Sitwell. Items on display will include the iconic portrait of Sitwell painted by Pavel Tchelitchew, Russian artist, painter and stage designer, acquired by Edward James, a lifelong supporter of the surrealists, in 1947 and part of the college's working collection.

Sitwell, who resembled Queen Elizabeth I with whom she shared a birthday, explored the duality of poetry and music in conceptual-like performances. She was well-known for her distinctive style of dress, wearing exotic costumes, brocade and velvet gowns, adorned with gold turbans and huge colourful rings. Sitwell, considered an innovator in a conservative period due to her dramatic work and unusual appearance claimed that; 'good taste is the worst vice ever invented.'

Edith, Elizabeth and I, directed by Sian Webber and designed by Katherine Richards, previewed in 2015 at The Tristan Bates Theatre, London, Harrogate Studio Theatre and The Marlborough, Brighton. The solo performance is on tour during autumn 2016 with the support of the Arts Council England.

'One-person shows about historical characters are a staple of fringe theatre. But Jules Craig's comic new play does something at once shrewder and warmer with the genre.' Bella Todd - The Stage

'A cracking show!' Will Young-Tristan Bates Theatre

'This show…has a huge heart.' Helen Jewell -The Old Market, Brighton

The performance is a comic fast moving one-woman show with a cast of three, all vying for the role of leading lady. Inspired by Sitwell's life, and her biographies of Elizabeth 1, it is the story of Juliet, who attempts to put on a play about her heroines, but discovers that telling the tales of others has its pitfalls, particularly when the subjects themselves turn up, and force her to face some home truths. The play explores the nature of biography, and focuses on the themes of role models, identity and the position of the older, unmarried woman in society.

The performance will be set in the imposing State Rooms at West Dean, which Sitwell visited in the 1930's. The friendship between the British poet and critic and Edward James is evident from correspondence and supportive literary criticism that passed between them, and held in the Edward James Archive.

"This book has given me the most pleasure, because I find you wanting beauty in poetry, and not dead and dried brains and knuckle bones". Sitwell commenting on The Next Volume by Edward James with illustrations by Rex Whistler (The James Press, 1938).

A selection of this material, including the Tchelitchew portrait, will be available to view before and after the performance. Jules Craig will be hosting a post-performance Question and Answer session. To book tickets visit www.westdean.org.uk/events.

Programme Wednesday 2 November

7:30-8pm
Viewing of material from the Edward James Archive
Refreshments available

8pm-9pm
'Edith, Elizabeth and I' performance in the Old Library

9pm-9:15pm
Q&A with Jules Craig

9:15pm-9:30pm
Viewing of material from the Edward James Archive

9:30pm-10pm
Refreshments available in the Oak Hall

-ends-

Notes to editors

  • West Dean College is part of The Edward James Foundation also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Tapestry Studio and West Dean Estate. Charity No. 1126084.
  • West Dean College specialises in Creative Arts and Conservation education and offers scholarships to talented students. Degrees and diplomas are validated by the University of Sussex. For more information visit www.westdean.org.uk.
  • Edith, Elizabeth and I www.edithwho.org.uk.
  • Edith Sitwell was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1954 (1887 - 1964).
  • All photography is copyright free to use for editorial purposes.

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Media Contact Information

For further information, high-resolution digital images of filming opportunities contact

Irene Caswell, Senior Media Officer, +44 (0)1243 818301

Email

West Dean College, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ www.westdean.org.uk