Compositor E By Charlie Dupré. Bruntwood Prize Longlist 2022

Falling Sparrow presents: Compositor E
By Charlie Dupré
February 14-19th; 20.15, 19.45, 14.30
Network Theatre
VAULT Festival

An apprentice typesetter works on the First Folio of Shakespeare, while processing the trauma of his mother’s execution for witchcraft. A play about the hidden fingerprints of history, in celebration of the Folio’s 400th anniversary.


‘Compositor E’ was longlisted for the Bruntwood Playwriting Prize in 2022. It tells the story of the young apprentice typesetter who contributed to the First Folio’s composition, known in
academic circles as Compositor E (thought to be 17-year old John Leason), and identifiable through the pattern of his errors. In this version, John’s mother has been executed by the state
for witchcraft. With the support of Isaac, the print shop supervisor, he soon gains greater clarity about how his mother’s narrative was taken from her. But his pain is exacerbated by the daily
process of deciphering ‘Macbeth’ from a confusing manuscript…

Writer Charlie Dupré graduated from the Jerwood/Arvon Playwriting Mentorship scheme in 2020. His first ensemble play, ‘Macblair’ told the story of Tony Blair as a Macbeth-style
tragicomedy. It played the Brighton and Edinburgh Fringes to critical success, and was one of The Scotsman’s Top 6 hot picks for political shows in 2017. In 2019, it’s sequel, Boris Rex was
nominated for an Off-Westend Award during its run at the Tristan Bates Theatre, London.


Charlie says, ‘I wanted to write a play that explores a male friendship, a story of a man supporting another man through trauma. The historical context is fascinating to me, because it demands to address the now, while staying intrinsically rooted in then. From printing presses to social media. From witch-hunting to misogynistic court rulings. I want to celebrate this centenary, while acknowledging that it is not the only way in which the present is holding hands with the past.’

Published on:
5 Dec 2022


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