In 2017 Joe Stephenson, who’s a Culp Distinguished Professor of English at ACU, discovered a never-before-seen play from the 1600s in the archives of the Boston Public Library titled The Dutch Lady. Stephenson, who wrote his dissertation on Dutch characters on the English stage, had never seen or heard of the play, and he could find no record of it in any prior scholarly works. He quickly realized he had made a once-in-a-lifetime discovery.
Two years later, Globe Education, a division of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, exhibited the play as a performance for the first time as part of its Read Not Dead series, which exhibits rare plays as stripped-down performances with minimal production.
The 2019 reading of The Dutch Lady took place at Gray’s Inn in London, the very place where Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors was first performed more than 400 years earlier. The Learning Studio’s Kyle Dickson and Nathan Driskell were there to capture footage of the performance and rehearsals, as well as Joe Stephenson’s lecture on his research into the history and suspected provenance of the play. They were also able to conduct on-camera interviews with global experts from The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and The Shakespeare Institute.
The resulting short video gives audiences both at ACU and around the globe a chance to travel to London with Joe, and to witness a moment that would only ever happen once: the unveiling of a historic play that, in its 400-year existence, had never before been performed by actors in a live setting.