The Actors Centre

Reimagining and Performing The Rover, by Aphra Behn

WHAT IS IT? The Rover is a play written in 1677 by Aphra Behn - one of the earliest female dramatists who made a living from playwriting. She worked as a spy for Charles II but when the king refused to pay her expenses she was forced to turn to playwriting to survive. The play was written during the Restoration, and Behn's viewpoint is often considered pro-Royalist - in The Rover she depicts a debauched world of exiled gentry as a consequence of the Puritan regime governing Britain pre-Restoration. She is remembered in Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own thus: "All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds." This two-day workshop will look at the questions we might want to ask about this text in relation to a modern audience and making a production for the present: How would the original staging of the play have affected the meaning and impact of the play? How do the gender politics of the play relate to the world today? HOW WILL IT WORK? We will begin by examining the relationship the text has to the present world and think through the choices available to a director and actors that can draw out a meaningful production for an audience now. We will look into the performance style the heightened language of the play might be demand. We will experiment with ways to ensure the performances feel as live and immediate as possible - how to use the poetry to do this, and also how to break through that language to connect directly with an audience. Many of the scenes in the play involve disguise, multiple characters and misunderstandings: we'll look at how to work as an ensemble, and the elements of farce and comedy that can bring those plot dynamics to life. WHAT DO YOU GET OUT OF IT? You will leave with a set of tools to approach a historical text and think about how it resonates for a modern audience, to approach working as an ensemble and ways explore speaking a historical text that can make it feel live, dangerous, and present for an audience now. Price: £60.


Ellen McDougall

Ellen’s directing credits include The Rolling Stone (Orange Tree Theatre);  The Glass Menagerie (Headlong/UK Tour); Cinderella (Lyric Hammersmith); Anna Karenina, The Rolling Stone (Manchester Royal Exchange); Idomeneus (Gate Theatre); Spring Awakening (RWCMD/Gate); Glitterland (Lyric Hammersmith); Henry the Fifth, Nutcracker, Not Now Bernard, and Antigone and Philoctetes (Unicorn Theatre); Telling Tales (Almeida Theatre); Ivan and the Dogs (ATC/Soho Theatre/Rustaveli Theatre - nominated for an Olivier Award 2011); A Kind of Alaska (JMK Award Runner Up/BAC); Betting on the Dust Commander (Albany Theatre). Ellen was formerly a Director in Secret Theatre at the Lyric, Associate Director at the Gate (2012-13) and Associate Artist at ATC (2009-11). She trained as an assistant to Katie Mitchell, Marianne Elliott, and Bijan Sheibani, and was Director in Residence at the NT Studio 2009. She received an Arts Council International Development Award 2012, and the Runner Up Prize for the JMK Award 2008. She is currently an Associate Artist at the Gate Theatre.


Available for:


You must be logged in to view the booking details.

Course topics

This workshop runs over two days

April 13, 14