Holy and Unruly

The year is 1593. Queen Elizabeth I, at the height of her powers as monarch, finds herself plagued by disturbing dreams, bewildering visions, and inexplicable moments of panic. A petition for justice from Grace O’Malley, an aristocratic Irish pirate feared from England to Africa, brings the Queen’s emotional crisis to a head, prompting her to revisit choices she made in the name of power, choices no man is...
The year is 1593. Queen Elizabeth I, at the height of her powers as monarch, finds herself plagued by disturbing dreams, bewildering visions, and inexplicable moments of panic. A petition for justice from Grace O’Malley, an aristocratic Irish pirate feared from England to Africa, brings the Queen’s emotional crisis to a head, prompting her to revisit choices she made in the name of power, choices no man is asked to make. Against the advice and wishes of her male advisors, the Queen grants Grace an audience. When two of Europe’s most charismatic women meet, they wrestle with questions still relevant today: What does it take to rule your world? What are the costs?
  • Recommend
  • Download
  • Save to Reading List

Holy and Unruly

Recommended by

  • Nick Malakhow:
    27 Jan. 2020
    In this engaging and relevant historical play, Beardsley explores the ways in which women have been time and again forced to carve out power in male dominated spaces through sacrifice and negotiation. "Holy and Unruly" successfully poses the question--is it worth the disempowering and limiting compromises that result? All of the characters in this play are distinctive and speak with clear and unique voices. The dialogue manages to feel of a different era but briskly-paced and cleverly worded. I would love to see the Unborn and Dudley realized with full theatricality onstage! I hope to track this play's development.
  • Donna Gordon:
    21 Nov. 2019
    The apparitions/puppets have the intended effects of embodying Elizabeth's sacrifices at the altar of power. When Grace the infamous Irish aristocrat turned pirate visits Elizabeth, they get into a profound discussion of women in positions of power. The inevitable confrontation between the male followers of these leaders in in stark contrast to the understanding between the women. Beardsley's insightful look at such differences would delight any audience who appreciates history relevant to our times. Any audience would like Beardsley's wit and colorful language.
  • Lucretia Anne Flammang:
    3 Nov. 2019
    How does loyalty fare when monarchs exercise their power? David Beardsley explores the question in “Holy and Unruly,” his thought-provoking speculation about what transpired when the Irish pirate Grace O’Malley met England’s Queen Elizabeth I. Eschewing straightforward history, Beardsley employs wonderful stagecraft, especially in characters who embody Elizabeth’s regrets. Like a Greek chorus only the Queen and audience see, these characters comment on the action in mime and dance. At times humorous and unexpectedly violent, the play resolves in a confrontation where the Queen and Pirate choose loyalty to each other and rewrite the script on power.

Character Information

  • Queen
    60,
    White/English
    ,
    Female
    Queen Elizabeth I of England.
  • Grace
    59,
    White/Irish
    ,
    Female
    Grace O'Malley, an Irish pirate and aristocrat.
  • The Unborn
    Any age, but should seem young (maybe a teenager?),
    Any race
    ,
    Any
    The Queen's never-conceived child. Age: unknowable. Gender: unknowable.
  • Dudley
    40s,
    White/English
    ,
    Male or Ungendered
    The Queen's long-dead love.
  • Burghley
    70s,
    White/English
    ,
    Male
    William Cecil, Lord Burghley, the Queen's advisor.
  • Lord Essex
    25,
    White/English
    ,
    Male
    Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, The Queen's cousin, advisor and rival.
  • Lady Scott
    20s,
    White/English
    ,
    Female
    The Queen's Lady of the Bedchamber. The actor who plays Lady Scott also plays MacNally.
  • Conroy
    40s,
    White/Irish
    ,
    Male
    Grace's first mate. The actor who plays Conroy also plays Bingham.
  • MacNally
    20s,
    White/Irish
    ,
    Male
    Grace's crewman and surrogate son. The female-identifying actor who plays Lady Scott also plays MacNally.
  • Governor Bingham
    40s,
    White/English
    ,
    Male
    Sir Richard Bingham, the English Governor of County Mayo. The actor who play Conroy doubles as Bingham.

Development History

  • Reading
    ,
    The Depot for New Play Readings (Connecticut)
    ,
    2019
  • Workshop
    ,
    New World Theatre, Putting It Together New Play Readings (New Hampshire)
    ,
    2019
  • Reading
    ,
    AboutFACE Ireland - NEWvember New Play Festival (Dublin)
    ,
    2018

Awards

Finalist
,
Ashland New Plays Festival
,
2019
Winner
,
Stage Play Category
,
Moondance International Film Festival
,
2019