Lament of Dorothy Wordsworth by PenPal Productions

by Jane Sunderland in Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

We did it
On 6th March 2019 we successfully raised £1,580 with 65 supporters in 29 days

To fund PenPal Productions' play 'The Lament of Dorothy Wordsworth' to be performed at the Glasgow West End Festival and Edinburgh Fringe.

by Jane Sunderland in Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

New stretch target

We are delighted to have achieved our first target of £1100. If we now raise this extra £400, we will be able to fully cover our production costs (venue hire, registration) and some professional fees in accordance with industry standards. We will be able to buy in some extra technical stuff (images, sound, light).

We will use the initial money successfully raised for 'The Lament' to cover some of the many required production and publicity costs. 

'The Lament' will be performed at the Glasgow West End Festival on June 7-9 (Hillhead Library, 3-4 pm) and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Aug. 11-17 and 19-25, 10. 40 a.m., at the wonderfully atmospheric and intimate Vault, 11 Merchant Street, off Candlemaker Row, EH1 2QD; see images below, the first with Director Mell in action). 



A third production is planned for the Glasgow Women's Library, sometime in September.

Glasgow Women's Library

The Lament of Dorothy Wordsworth' is written by Jane Sunderland; the Director of this production is Melloney Flinn; Jill Franklin and Jane Sunderland are co-producers. (An earlier, shorter version was produced by Short Attention Span Theatre in Edinburgh (Gilded Balloon, June 2018). This was directed by Matt Addicott and also performed by Gillian Massey.)

Short Attention Span Theatre

Gillian Massey

Gillian is a Glasgow-based actor with several years experience in theatre and live performance. She has taken on a wide variety of roles from classic plays including Mary Warren (The Crucible), Ismene (Antigone) and Laertes (Hamlet) as well as roles from contemporary and new writing pieces including Charlotte (Wasted) and Marguerite (The Man Who Ate The Sun).  She has performed in productions at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival, Southside Fringe Festival and, in 2016, made her debut at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in a new play, Irrelevant, which was shortlisted for the Scottish Arts Club Theatre Award.

Jane wrote this this play with an awareness both that women artists are often undervalued, and that the support they provide to their husbands and male relations is rarely fully appreciated. In this case, Dorothy carried out a huge amount of domestic work for her famous brother William. She also cultivated the Dove Cottage garden with him, walked with him over the hills and assiduously wrote her journal, the observations in which William frequently drew on for his poetry. In the play Jane imagines the discussions, and perhaps arguments, Dorothy and William might have had about different phrasings.

Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Trust


Dove Cottage (Geograph, Christine Hasman / Dove Cottage / CC BY-SA 2.0) 

And a less conventional view ....

And the Dove Cottage garden, Spring 2019

And Grasmere - the lake


Dorothy Wordsworth (courtesy of Wordsworth Trust) 

The play is set in 1801 when Dorothy and William had recently moved into Dove Cottage in Grasmere. Here's an extract from her poem 'Grasmere, a fragment' which shows how she felt about it:

Peaceful our valley, fair and green,
And beautiful her cottages,
Each in its nook, its sheltered hold,
Or underneath its tuft of trees.
Many and beautiful they are;
But there is one that I love best,
A lowly shed, in truth, it is,
A brother of the rest.
Yet when I sit on rock or hill,
Down looking on the valley fair,
That Cottage with its clustering trees
Summons my heart; it settles there.
Others there are whose small domain
Of fertile fields and hedgerows green
Might more seduce a wanderer's mind
To wish that there his home had been.
Such wish be his! I blame him not,
My fancies they perchance are wild
--I love that house because it is
The very Mountains' child.

For Dorothy this was Paradise. She had grown up apart from William and her other brothers, and she finally felt she had 'come home'. What to think, then, when William decides to marry Mary Hutchinson, a childhood friend of them both?

Pamela Woof on Dorothy Wordsworth

And here's a nice quote about the one-person play (or 'dramatic monologue' if you prefer):

[For 'he' read 'they' or in this case 'she']

"... the speaker does not use his utterance to expound a meaning but to pursue one, a meaning which comes to him with the shock of revelation. The speaker’s pursuit of meaning accounts for the tone of improvisation in the best dramatic monologues, as well as for the speaker’s rapt absorption in what he is saying . . . . The meaning the speaker pursues is precisely his song, his life’s meaning."

Robert Langbaum, The Poetry of Experience: The Dramatic Monologue in Modern Literary Tradition, Chatto and Windus, 1957, p 189.

The play grew out the the Edinburgh University MSc in Playwriting programme (where the PenPals first met); Jane wrote 'Dorothy and William', a 50-minute play featuring Dorothy, William and Mary. 'The Lament of Dorothy Wordsworth' is a one-woman play, developed from 'Dorothy and William', and workshopped through the 'Dramatic License' Edinburgh-based playwriting group.


A first read-through


And a photo-shoot on the Meadows

Pen Pal Productions is a new theatre company focussing on women, friendship and positive ageing. Founding members Melloney Flinn, Jill Franklin and Jane Sunderland met on the MSc in Playwriting course (Edinburgh University, Director of Studies Nicola McCartney). 


The PenPals, from left - Jill, Jane, Mell (with Saffy)

MSc in Playwriting, Edinburgh University

'The Lament of Dorothy Wordsworth' is the PenPals' first performance project. We envisage staging a series of productions and also running practitioner development workshops. 


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£30 or more

Complementary ticket

A complementary ticket to a performance of 'The Lament of Dorothy Wordsworth' of your choice.

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