Acting Production

Theatrefolk Featured Play – Lose Not Thy Head by Gary Rodgers

Lose Not Thy Head
Written by Lindsay Price

Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight. If you like Shakespeare, Monty Python, a little love, a little death, a lot of laughs and lunch at the pub, you must read Lose Not Thy Head by Gary Rodgers!

The Viscountess is in a funk. She’s lost her passion for her job as lead executioner. This may or may not help the next victim.

Joan has been sentenced to lose her head for impersonating her famous brother William Shakespeare. He’s disappeared with all his earnings and Joan has been trying to finish his latest play about Henry VIII. Joan pleads for her life, Death waits for Joan to die, a severed Head says beheading isn’t so bad, a Sigmund Freud-type doctor tries to convince everyone that you can’t sew a head back on a body, and then things get weird.

Why did we publish this play?
If you love comedy, but like your comedy left of centre rather than the pie in the face variety – this is your play. If you’re looking for interesting parts for girls – this is your play. If you’re looking for gender flexible roles – this is your play. If you like Monty Python, Shakespeare, Freud, talking chopped off heads, a little love, a little death, and a lot of laughs all in one package – then this your play!

Let’s hear from the author!

1. Why did you write this play?
I wanted a write a comedy that took an extremely unsavoury topic, such as medieval beheading in dank dungeons, and make total light of it. I feel that that is truly the source of this play’s magic. Such contrast is certainly not something that I invented but is common to many great comedies.

2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
I always felt the theme of this play is one’s struggle for power, control and self-preservation in an increasingly unsteady environment. This play is predicated on a constant struggle between several characters for command of the situation throughout the entire play. Even the supporting characters get to vie for status and control.

3. What’s the most important visual for you in this play?
One has to love the guillotine as a centre piece for the whole production. We are presented with a rather nasty image when ANNE is placed on the rack/stretcher and laid on the guillotine bed, beneath the blade, pleading for her life. The unpleasantness of this visual is smashed to pieces shortly thereafter when everyone is jumping on the guillotine vying for control, in a manner reminiscent of the children’s game I’m the King of the Castle.

4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
Don’t feel daunted by having to build a guillotine. It really isn’t as difficult as it might look and I’d be happy to explain how it was done for the original production. It is also possible to use other means of execution, for instance, CHROMWELL or WOLSEY could always carry a large axe for the purpose of beheading.

5. Why is this play great for student performers?
For many high school performers, Lose Not Thy Head is an introduction to macabre humour, which is a wonderful genre to explore. Also, most high school thespians will have had some experience with Shakespeare in English class, however, it is less likely that they would have encountered Henry VIII or his sister JOAN for that matter. The troupe that presented the original performance had a wonderful time rehearsing and preparing their production and, ultimately, it was an extremely entertaining experience for both the company and audience.

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About the author

Lindsay Price