The Busy Body at Southwark Playhouse

One of the most popular plays of the 1700s by Susannah Centlivre is currently running at the Southwark Playhouse until 6 October. Book tickets here.

The Busy Body was written in 1709 and performed over 450 times before 1800. The character of Marplot was one of the most celebrated comic creations of the Restoration stage and was first performed by David Garrick, who counted it among his favourite roles.

It’s great to have an opportunity to see this play in London. Read more about Centlivre and some of her contemporaries in my The Behn Legacy Section.

 

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About 17Percent

A campaign to get more plays by women playwrights onto UK stages.
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One Response to The Busy Body at Southwark Playhouse

  1. I thought you might appreciate this little excerpt from The Busy Body- which I’ve adapted quite a bit (as you can probably guess from what follows)- this is part of the new prologue. The original, written by a male peer of Centlivre’s, was effectively an apology for the fact she was a woman and a plea for the audience not to be too mean or judgemental because of this unfortunate disadvantage! Here’s the new bit…
    I do hope you’ll make it down to Southwark, I think this play might be right up your street!
    Best wishes
    Jess Swale

    Don’t underestimate our wit
    When words are by a woman writ
    Historic’ly we were omit- ted
    But we’re back, so just admit
    We’re worth an evening in the stalls
    We might be girls but we’ve got balls
    Our plays have played on stages all
    On boards, on carts, in music halls
    For many wenches since our day
    Have penned many a wondrous play
    There’s Aphra Ben and Mary Pix and
    Hannah Cowley, Lizzie Griffiths,
    Frances Kemble, Mary Mitford,
    Charlotte Smith, Joanna Baillie,
    Frances Burney got quite far
    Lizzie Inchbald was a star
    Catherine Gore and Sophie Lee
    In the nineteenth century
    Then when Churchill ruled the age
    Caryl Churchill ruled on stage
    Lavery, Upton, Helman,Coxon,
    Kirkwood, Prebble, Edmundson,
    Sarah Daniels, Tucker Green
    Sarah Kane was quite obscene,
    Charlotte Jones and Anya Reiss*
    Feehily and de Angelis
    Laura Wade who’s very posh
    Lots of boys saying ‘rah’ and ‘tosh.
    Gupta, Lenkewitz and Ruhl
    Polly Stenham (still at school)
    Wertenbaker, Leyshon, Harris.
    Yasmina Reza in Paris,
    Whittington, Rona Munro
    Penny Skinner, E V Crowe
    So now for your most keen delight
    Revived after a long respite,
    Wenches, wastrels, please applaud,
    Our female wit who braved the boards.
    Susannah makes her bold return,
    So fellahs, may you watch and learn…

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