Category: Boudica

Boudica Blogs: Music and MovementAssistant Director Martin…

Boudica Blogs: Music and Movement

Assistant Director Martin Leonard’s final Boudica blog. The blogging may be over, but this play’s journey continues!

In addition to all the fighting and scene work, we somehow manage to fit in a music call with the composer Jules Maxwell, in which we look at some of the singing that will feature in the show. 

The songs vary in style, from boisterous post battle celebrations to more soulful meditations on death and remembrance. The cast are quick to pick the music up and by the end of one session have learnt both harmonies and drum accompaniments to three different pieces.

To cap it all off, we also have Tom Jackson Greaves, our choreographer, helping to both strengthen the physical language of the piece and also choreograph key moments in the play. 

This week he looked mainly at the Prologue, in which the Goddess of Victory, Andraste, sets the entire play in motion, introduces us to key characters and explores some of the historical context of Roman Britain. 


While Anna-Maria Nabirye (pictured in rehearsal), playing Andraste, grapples magnificently with her opening monologue, Tom begins to build a shape to the choreography for the rest of the ensemble cast, the aim being to create imagery that supports Andraste’s words and adds depth to her storytelling.

We end the week wondering where all the time has gone and with a real appreciation of the magnitude of the task in hand. Overall, however, we are optimistic about what we have so far managed to achieve. 

Eleanor has explored more of the scenes with the actors than we originally thought would be possible in the time (in part due to the energy and enthusiasm of the brilliant cast) and we find ourselves with an initial blueprint to the staging of a good chunk of the first half. 

But this is just the beginning –  second week will soon be upon us and this means carrying on where we left off – scene work, circuits and a whole lot more violence.


Boudica Blogs: Text WorkSo the shape of the week as a whole is…

Boudica Blogs: Text Work

So the shape of the week as a whole is as follows: 45 minutes of warming up and circuits, three hours of fighting and then an afternoon of text and scene work. The text work may not seem as thrilling as all the fighting but it is a vital part of the process. 

The actors and Director Eleanor Rhode get a chance to ground each scene, question each character’s intentions, and begin the process of understanding the world of Boudica and the story that we are trying to tell.

Being a completely new play, the company also get to work with Tristan Bernays, the writer, on editing and shaping the script. When we discover clarity might be needed, or an actor thinks a character’s intentions are unclear or over-laboured, Tristan is on hand to suggest an edit. 

The play is written in iambic pentameter, so rewriting edits is no mean feat – but five minutes in a quiet corner with a bit of scrap paper and Tristan is able to form new passages of the stuff with impressive ease.

Words: Martin Leonard, Assistant Director

Boudica Costume Design Sketches by Tom PiperBoudica is a brand…

Boudica Costume Design Sketches by Tom Piper

Boudica is a brand new ancient history play about one queen’s fight for revenge. Here is a sneak peek of what designer Tom Piper is cooking up for the look of the costumes in the production. How beautiful are these artist drawings, direct from him sketchbook?

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Boudica Blogs: The Warm UpAssistant Director of Boudica Martin…

Boudica Blogs: The Warm Up

Assistant Director of Boudica Martin Leonard has been blogging from behind the scenes…

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Everyday begins with a warm up, led by RC Annie, which aims to ready everyone physically for the show.

This means one thing… circuits.

Circuit training entails undertaking a variety of exercises, such as skipping, squats, sit-ups and burpees (which are a sort of horrendous combination of a jump and a press-up) under timed conditions. We do 15 intense exercises for 30 seconds at a time. 

This might not sound like long on each, but when you combine all the exercises together it becomes much more of a challenge. In a sort of remarkable / naive show of solidarity everyone joins in with the circuits – stage management, the directing team, even the writer. 

It’s a real slog at first but also fantastic when you finally complete each 15 stage circuit – you really feel you’ve earned that tea break Jammie Dodger.

(Photography by Helena Miscioscia. Below: Anna-Maria Nabirye and Bethan Clark; above: Bethan Clark and Owen Findlay).

Boudica Blogs: Learning to FightAssistant Director of Boudica…

Boudica Blogs: Learning to Fight

Assistant Director of Boudica Martin Leonard presents a series of blogs in which he takes us inside the rehearsal room of this exciting new play which opens on Friday 8 September.

Read more about Boudica >>

Read yesterday’s blog >>

For the rest of the first day, and indeed every morning of the first week, it’s all about one thing – fighting.

This is a play about war and in order to do it justice, violence is at the very core of what we need to rehearse. 


Pictured: Joan Iyiola (Alonna)

Luckily we have the masterful fight directing duo, Ruth and Rachel (who together form stage combat company RC-Annie), with us throughout the rehearsal process. 

They have a big task ahead of them and will therefore be leading three hours of rehearsal every day for the next four weeks. 

This week they begin with the basics: building up strength, learning footwork and exploring how to make safe and supportive physical contact with your fellow fighter. 


Pictured: Tok Stephen (Clothen/Cato)

By covering all the basics and slowly building up the cast’s fighting skillset, RC-Annie help give the actors more confidence and also empower them to think up unique moves and weapon flourishes that will keep their characters distinct during combat. 

We’re ready!

The cast take to this all with aplomb and by the end of the week we are building the fight choreography for the first big battle, the sacking of Camulodunum, in which the entire cast are involved in multiple fights simultaneously occurring all over the auditorium.  


Pictured: Kate Handford (Silvia)

Lots to do, I’ll be back tomorrow with more updates!

Photos: Helena Misciosia

Boudica Blogs: Exciting But Strange AffairsAssistant Director of…

Boudica Blogs: Exciting But Strange Affairs

Assistant Director of Boudica Martin Leonard presents a series of blogs in which he takes us inside the rehearsal room of this exciting new play which opens on Friday 8 September.

Read more about Boudica >>

First days are incredibly exciting but strange affairs – the room is awash with nervous energy. 

The initial meet and greet is full of people, some you recognise and many you don’t – from the artistic team, production, marketing, costume, props-making, box office, etc. It’s testament to the size of a theatre like Shakespeare’s Globe and the magnitude of the logistical operation that goes into creating an action-packed summer season. 

Emma Rice, Artistic Director, kicks us off with a warm welcome, waxing lyrical about the play and its place in the Globe’s Summer of Love season. Love is admittedly not a word that immediately comes to mind when describing a play that involves buckets of violence, the dismantling of a nation and the deaths of thousands, but in its own way… it makes sense. The play explores cultural identity, the love of one’s home and one’s family and the tragic consequences of what can happen when this love is threatened.

Eleanor Rhode, Boudica’s director, follows with a short introduction to the play itself, its ideas and the history of its development, before we get stuck straight into the first read-through…

The cast are together for the first time sat around a big table, scripts in hand, and we all as a group get a chance to get to grips with the piece. It’s great to hear the actors bring the text alive – it’s a little taster of what each actor will bring to the production and helps to clarify to us all how each character might begin to form. 

I get a starring role, playing the part of ‘Stage Directions’, so I spend most of the first read-through desperately trying to remember the correct pronunciations of the various Briton and Roman names and places, such as the tongue twisting Prasutagus and Camulodunum.

A fun first day. Until next time…

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Boudica: Rehearsal Photos Boudica is a brand new ancient…

Gina McKee (Boudica)

Joan Iyiola (Alonna)

Forbes Masson (Cunobeline)

Samuel Collings (Catus Deciamus)

Kate Handford (Silvia)

Owen Findlay (Ensemble)

Anna-Maria Nabirye (Andraste/Roman Woman) and Bethan Clark (Ensemble)

Clifford Samuel (Suetonius) and Jenny Fitzpatrick (Lucius)

Owen Findlay (Ensemble) and Abraham Popoola (Badvoc)

Natalie Simpson (Blodwynn) and Jenny Fitzpatrick (Lucius)

Boudica: Rehearsal Photos

Boudica is a brand new ancient history play by

Tristan Bernays

that tells the story of one of Britain’s most infamous women: a queen, a warrior and a rebel.

Directed by Eleanor Rhode, Boudica will play in the Globe Theatre from Friday 8 September – Sunday 1 October 2017.

(Image credits:

Helena Miscioscia)


Tristan Bernays on BoudicaIt’s unusual to start a Monday…

Tristan Bernays on Boudica

It’s unusual to start a Monday morning at work watching Gina McKee cut out someone’s tongue – but that’s what’s happening as I write this blog, and I couldn’t be happier.

Gina will be playing the title role in my new show Boudica, a brand new ancient history play that recounts the story of Britain’s most famous and fearsome warrior queen.

The story begins in 61AD in Britannia, the farthest outpost of the Roman Empire. The Romans have spent the last 100 years colonising and ruling the local tribes, and when the king of the Iceni Prasutagus dies, his widow Boudica comes to claim her rightful throne. For daring to defy the might of Rome, the queen is flogged, her two daughters Alonna and Blowdynn are raped and all three are banished from Icenia.

But rather than accept her fate, Boudica raises an army of 100,000 angry Britons and together they begin a bloody rebellion that threatens to overthrow the Roman Empire.

Photos: from the rehearsal room, Twitter @tristanbernays


Which is how I find myself watching Gina mutilating poor Owen (playing a battered and bruised Centurion) before we’ve even had a cup of tea.

To be honest, I never dreamed I would be here in this rehearsal room. Before Boudica, I wrote a play called Teddy, a play about Teddy Boys in 1950s London. It was a firecracker of a show – big and loud and exciting, but very small. Just two actors playing all the characters. My show before that The Bread & The Beer was a one man show about the ancient god of beer, sex and chaos John Barleycorn being dug up in modern day London – again with one performer (me) playing all the parts.

So far, it had all been small plays. I was ready for something big. Something huge. Something epic. A multi narrative, sweeping drama with battles and swordplay, so large that no one would ever really produce it. It would basically be a calling card to show I could ‘write big’ if and when any big theatres came a-knocking in some flung, misty future.

And that’s where Boudica came in.


Many years ago, when I was still an actor, a close female friend and actor said to me she was sick of not having the fun that her male counterparts got to have. Male actors get to have sword fights, gun battles, car chases. Most parts for women, she said (especially in Shakespeare and classical theatre), require them to be beautiful and witty in a pretty dress, before they die gracefully. Very boring.

Seven years later it came to writing this ridiculous epic I had planned, I remembered this conversation and realised I wanted to write something for women. Something with complex and difficult characters. Where they got to wield swords and lead armies. Fight and destroy. Kill and be killed. Something where they got be warriors.

What better story than Boudica?

Of course, no-one would be foolish enough to actually produce a show which required 20 characters, gods and queens and warriors and generals, multiple sword and fist fights, endless explosions, buckets of blood, guts and no less than three battles.

No-one could be that foolish surely?

God bless The Globe for being that foolish. For being brave enough to put strong and complex female characters front and centre. For trusting a numpty like me with their incredible stage. For letting me run riot and bring the story of this extraordinarily woman hurtling into the 21st century.

Boudica may be 2000 years old, but we need characters like her. Now more than ever.

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Gina McKee Will Play BoudicaThis week we announced the cast…

Gina McKee Will Play Boudica

This week we announced the cast for Boudica

Gina McKee will be playing the title role in Eleanor Rhode’s forthcoming production which charts the story of one of Britain’s most famous warrior queens.

Gina is well-known for a huge range of roles across stage and screen, having appeared in award-winning films such as Notting Hill, Atonement and In The Loop, and television dramas such as Line of Duty (BBC), Vera (ITV), Hebburn (BBC), The Borgias (Showtime) and most recently, Emerald City (NBC). 

On stage, she played Queen Elizabeth in Jamie Lloyd’s Richard III at Trafalgar Studios, Goneril in Michael Grandage’s King Lear at the Donmar Warehouse and Anne in Lyndsey Turner’s Faith Healer at the Donmar Warehouse last year.


Boudica Cast AnnouncedGina McKee will play the title role in our…

Boudica Cast Announced

Gina McKee will play the title role in our production of Boudica, a new play which charts the story of one of Britain’s most famous warrior queens.

The full cast: Bethan Clark, Samuel Collings, Owen Findlay, Jenny Fitzpatrick, Kate Handford, Joan Iyiola, Brian Martin, Forbes Masson (above L-R), Gina McKee, Anna-Maria Nabirye, Abraham Popoola, Clifford Samuel, Natalie Simpson and Tok Stephen (below L-R).

Written by Tristan Bernays and directed by Eleanor Rhode, Boudica opens on Friday 8 September in The Globe Theatre.

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