McMaster Reading Early Modern Plays

I’m Dr Andrew Bretz and I’d like to try to put together a reading group for the Winter Semester.

My plan is simple: Let’s get together in Bridges Cafe around lunch once every month and read an early modern play together while having lunch.

This is not a requirement for any particular course; anyone can come, English student or not; there will be no attendance; you can come by late or leave early; it’s all just for the fun of reading a great play together! Funny voices and silly accents will be encouraged.

All texts will be provided on the date of the reading. You don’t have to read it ahead of time – in fact, I encourage you not to. It might spoil the joy of discovery.

If you want to just blow off some steam or if you want to read a play you probably won’t get a chance to read otherwise, then this is probably for you!

The schedule of events is below. Circle the dates in your calendar and I hope to see you there.

If you wish to get in touch, please contact:

Andrew Bretz
226 820 1481

Tamburlaine the Great

Author: Christopher Marlowe

Location: Bridges Cafe

Date: 30 January


Tamburlaine the Great was Marlowe’s first great foray onto the public stage as a playwright and it is arguably his most influential play. It tells the true story of Timur the Lame, the shepherd who, through conquest, became the most powerful despot in central Asia since Genghis Khan. Over the top, full of bombast and stupendous arrogance, Tamburlaine is a larger than life character who influenced a whole generation of Elizabethan and Jacobean writers. This was, after all, the play that pioneered the use of blank verse on the stage and established the theatre as a site where great poetry could be performed.


Location: Bridges Cafe

Date: 2/27/2016


The barbarian queen who cowed the Romans into submission, only to be destroyed by those closest to her. The story of the flame-haired Celtic queen Bonduca revenging her daughters’ rapes by laying waste to the Roman occupying forces resonated in the years following Elizabeth’s death.

The Roaring GirlRoaring Girl

Location: Bridges Cafe

Date: 3/19/2016


She drinks, she smokes, she swears, she ROARS! Based on the actual historical figure, Moll Cutpurse, the main character in this City Comedy was a swaggering woman in breeches, fighting her way through a world that would really have rather much preferred if she would please put on a skirt… I mean, think of the children!

arden_pageArden of Faversham

Location: Bridges Cafe

Date: 4/9/2016


An Elizabethan era true crime story! The murder of the middle class Thomas Arden by his wife and her lover was not merely a cautionary tale for the period – it was a salacious scandal that rocked the nation!


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