The Life and Death of Jack Straw by Anonymous

“We owe God a death, and we can but die…”

The Life and Death of Jack Straw is a fabulously short history play, which does everything any other major history play does but in half the time. We’ve viewed it as a bit like the film script of an adaptation of the original play, though it’s textual history is actually a lot more complex and will almost certainly be never fully explained. We have really gone to town on this play, with (possibly over) extensive Spoilers episodes, an upcoming Full Cast Audio Adaptation, upcoming interviews with editors and producers, and most excitingly, an upcoming live production.

Yes, in October 2020 we are helping to produce a community production of the play as part of a show about the Peasants Revolt. The production by the Quay Theatre, Sudbury, will begin work in earnest in the spring. Auditions will be open to all, and we’ll be documenting the process to as full an extent as we can.

Till then, here’s the material we’ve produced to date – a complete series of Spoilers on the play. Goose and all.

The Audio Production Cast are…

RICHARD II – Nemonee Stone

ARCHBISHOP – Adam Thurkettle

Lord MAYOR – Simon Nader

Sir John MORTON – Geir Madland

Sir John NEWTON – Heydn McCabe

QUEEN MOTHER – Gillian Horgan

USHER – Pamela Flanagan

JACK STRAW, a rebel leader – Pollie Hall

WAT TYLER – a rebel leader – Leigh McDonald

TOM MILLER, clown – Hugh Weller-Poley

JOHN BALL, a parson – Rob Myson

HOB CARTER, leader of the Essex Men – Andy Barrett

NOBS, a boy – Sarah Golding

TAX COLLECTOR – Robert Crighton

SPENCER, a bargeman – Rob Myson

MESSENGER – Mark Scanlon*

SOUTHWARK MAN – Alan Scott

*In the spoilers the messenger in Act One is performed by Alan Scott.

Other parts played by members of the company, including the Flemish worker – who everyone recorded but only one was chosen. We just can’t remember who. Special thanks to the Quay Theatre, Chris Hapka, Stephen Longstaffe, Bad Quarto, the Geese who live next door, and all our wonderful patrons who’ve supported this production and made all this possible.

You can follow the text online – though some texts are better than others. There are, to our current knowledge, only two modern editions – the print on demand acting edition published by Groundling Press which can be found at their website http://www.groundlingpress.com/, and the excellent and almost impossible to get critical edition edited by Stephen Longstaffe (Mellen Critical Editions, 2002). Online versions exist – there is a copy of a fascimile at archive.org, which serves as a foundation https://archive.org/details/cu31924013324540/page/n9
Other online versions can and should be searched for.  Nay demanded.