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Troubled Margery’s life story told in play

By Lynn News Reporter

An epic production of a new American play about Margery Kempe of Lynn is coming to Lynn Minster on September 22 with an album of songs composed for it by local storytelling-folk music band the Penland Phezants.

‘Skirting Heresy’, by the New York journalist Elizabeth Macdonald, tells the remarkable story of Margery, an illiterate medieval housewife and mother of 14 who had visions of heaven and hell.

Margery Kempe play setting (2770320)
Margery Kempe play setting (2770320)

She wrote (by dictation) the first autobiography in English and spent a good deal of her life accused of heresy.

Margery lived in troubled times at the turn of the 15th century, in the heyday of Hanseatic Lynn, the daughter of Lynn merchant, MP, royal agent and mayor John Brunham.

Brunham’s status possibly saved his daughter from a heretic’s bonfire and from the powerful enemies she made – including the Archbishop of York and the Mayor of Leicester.

Elizabeth Macdonald’s play sets Margery’s story in an England still reeling from the impact of the Black Death, the Peasants’ Revolt, and a combined political, economic and religious crisis which ushered in extreme legislation, like the Statute of Heresies Act of 1400, under which Margery’s own parish priest William Sawtrey became the first man to be burned for his beliefs in England.

Adrawing of Margery Kempe (2770805)
Adrawing of Margery Kempe (2770805)

The show songs feature a ballad each from key characters in Margery’s life and two others give Margery’s own point of view.

Performances of the show songs are available on an online album, packed with pictures, links and information about Margery and other characters: https://thepenlandphezants.bandcamp.com/album/songs-for-skirting-heresy-the-life-and-times-of-margery-kempe

The physical CD will be released at the September 22 premiere of ‘Skirting Heresy’ at Lynn Minster.

The songs will be performed by the actors in the play.

Auditions for this exciting and epic production are being held at Marriott’s Warehouse Second Floor on July 28 and July 29.

For further information, please contact True’s Yard museum.

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