Step into the turbulent Tudor world, through shadowy corridors and secret rooms to a court gripped by ambition, treachery and obsession. Witness the downfall of Anne Boleyn in this thrilling new site-specific promenade production. It will show you a side of Hampton Court Palace you've never seen before.
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With the brief of bringing Hampton Court to life, the Goat and Monkey theatre company worked with playwright Ali Taylor, academics and professionals to explore the politics of court, the female body and Tudor medicine. The play was an immersive theatre performance, where the audience was invited to follow one of four courtiers around the environs of the palace, while the events leading up to Anne Boleyn's downfall unfolded around them. As the audience was led through the chambers, courts and kitchens, shadowy figures whispered rumours and spread gossip, and death stalked the corridors.
I was one of the academics that undertook research for the company and playwright in the course of creating the play. I helped to reveal the everyday functioning of the court as well as the medical understanding of pregnancy and childbirth in the early modern period. The interweaving of four separate narratives meant that the play gave the audience different perspectives on the Queen's downfall, through the eyes of a diverse set of characters. The result could perhaps be seen as a reflection of the continuing historical exploration of this episode of English history, because interpretations of these events remain hotly contested in historical scholarship.
'A Little Neck' was a collaborative project between Goat and Monkey theatre company, Historic Royal Palaces, and Oxford Brookes University. It was funded by the Wellcome Trust and was performed between 14 September and 4 October 2009. It also coincided with other events to mark the 500 years since Henry VIII was crowned king.