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Performing Pixerécourt's The Fortress on the Danube

On Friday 25th August there will be a one-off community performance of Pixerécourt's melodrama La Forteresse du Danube (1805) in translation at the Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, North Yorkshire. It will have a professional director, Sarah Wynne Kordas, and orchestra, led by musicologist and violinist Dr Diane Tisdall, with Dr Sarah Burdett as dramaturge. Pixerécourt was one of the most performed playwrights in the first part of the 19th century in France, and worldwide. He was the leading exponent of melodrama, a form of early 19th-century theatre which combined sentimental plot devices with spectacle, comedy and music: we will be using the original score to the Lille performances of the play. The performance takes place during Richmond's Georgian festival and is a great opportunity to experience a Napoleonic melodrama in Britain's oldest working theatre.

Tickets are on sale for £9 at

The performance is the culmination of an AHRC-funded project on staging Napoleonic theatre and we hope you'll be able to join us for a great night out.
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More details about the project can be found here:

Kate Astbury, Sarah Burdett, Diane Tisdall

When: 10am-5pm, 17 June 2017. Where: Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond. Cost: Free.

Booking essential

  • Exciting opportunity for adults (over 16s) to receive free expert training in the acting styles and theatrical traditions of 19th-century melodrama, within the country’s most complete Georgian playhouse, as part of a project funded by the AHRC.
  • Chance to audition for a role in a production of Guilbert de Pixerécourt’s The Fortress on the Danube (1805), to be performed across a week at the Theatre Royal Richmond during the Georgian Festival, marking the first adaptation of an early French melodrama to appear in over a century.

The Workshop

Guided by 19th-century theatre specialists and a professional director, attendees will be offered the chance to develop skills in melodramatic acting techniques including:

  • The externalisation of emotion
  • The ability to move to music
  • The delivery of a melodramatic script

By partaking in stimulating practical exercises, participants will acquire in-depth knowledge of the stylistically unique genre that dominated early nineteenth-century theatre.

The Audition

All attendees are invited to audition for a role in Pixerécourt’s Fortress, a melodrama exploring the conflict between love and duty. A range of parts are on offer, big and small, serious and comic, including a sentimental father, a cross-dressed daughter, and a drunken castle-keeper.
No previous acting experience is required. Auditionees must be available to rehearse and perform in Richmond between 20-25th August 2017.

Performance: Friday 25th August 2017, 7.30pm

The Team

Sarah Wynne Kordas: Professional Director and actor with 17 years theatrical experience. Producer of three short films, and recently commissioned to write her first feature length screen play. Currently touring as Nurse Paisley in Anthony Horowitz’s Mindgame with Tabs Productions, and guest-directing new writing for the Windsor Fringe Festival.
Dr Katherine Astbury: Chief investigator of AHRC-funded project ‘Staging Napoleonic Theatre’. Co-organiser of 2014 workshop ‘The Melodramatic Moment: 1790-1820.’ Presently working with English Heritage to stage a production at Portchester Castle of French melodrama Roseliska ou amour, haine et vengeance.
Dr Sarah Burdett: Theatre historian specialising in early 19th-century acting styles and British melodrama of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Periods. Has co-directed and acted in Brechtian performances staged at venues including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Norwich Puppet Theatre with K2 Productions.
Dr Diane Tisdall: Professional violinist and music historian specialising in 19th-century French music and culture. Trained at internationally acclaimed institutions including the Université Aix-Marseille, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and Newcastle Conservatorium, Australia.


Food and Drink Provided. If wishing to attend, please complete a booking form

Click here to read the performance script of The Fortress on the Danube

Fortress image