An Encounter with Death

Encounter with Death - 1

It is 1616. King James VI of Scotland has been on the throne of England and Ireland for thirteen years, having inherited the kingdom as the closest surviving relative of the beloved and sadly deceased Queen Elizabeth I. England continues to go through a time of both upheaval and opportunity, though the crowning glory of Elizabeth’s reign, the destruction of the Spanish Armada, has restored hope and stability to this once-isolated isle.

William Shakespeare is at the end of his life. More than any other figure, he knows and has documented the nature of mankind: its ambitions, its loves, its greed, jealously, spiritual aspirations and passing triumphs. In our five-act ritual drama we will revisit this knowledge within the mind of the Bard; a learning that would, one day, become known as psychology–and see it as a microcosm of the Elizabethan age with striking parallels to today…

Our play begins with the elderly Shakespeare on his deathbed. Three lit candles stand above the chair beside which lie the unused quill and paper on which the poet can no longer write. A friendly figure of Death approaches and asks, “Master Shakespeare, are you content?” The playwright raises a weary head and gestures, without words, to the archetypal being that has come for him.

Death begins to snuff out the candles.

The Reaper praises the life Shakespeare has led and summons images of some of this most famous characters. In a failing voice, Shakespeare speaks of his belief that mankind has a common interior nature, clouded over by the characteristics that the events of life produce.

Death reaches for the final candle and says, “They were good stories, Master Shakespeare, and will live on in the hearts of those who will come to love you… long after your body is but dust…”

Death begins to snuff out the last light, but Shakespeare raises a frail hand to halt his progress.

“Yes?” asks Death, gently.

“There was one story untold,” says the Bard. “One story that could not be told or it would have hurt her soul and her life… a story of the beloved Queen’s darkest hour.”

Death leans in and listens. “Tell it now,” he whispers.

The Silent Eye’s Spring 2018 Workshop will tell this story, a tale which, in the mind of the dying Shakespeare, consolidates his experiences with his beloved Queen – and recounts the fine line that all such playwrights had to tread in those uncertain times–times which, nevertheless, forged the Britain we know today…

The Silent Eye’s 2018 Spring workshop: Jewel in the Claw, weekend of 20-22 April is open for bookings.

Acting parts are available for everyone; from the most experienced to the enthusiastic newcomer. Come and join us! Each year, people new to the whole idea of group learning within mystical drama come to be part of it, and, every time, no-one wants to leave come the Sunday afternoon.

The booking form is shown below. You can download a copy here SE18 Booking form aloneAA

For updates, visit our website.

You can contact us to discuss the workshop at

SE18 Booking form aloneAA

©Stephen Tanham

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