by Joe Laredo
In a world where women have neither power nor freedom, Kassia makes men dance to her tune.
Kassia is based on what is known, and believed, about the life of the eponymous ninth-century Byzantine composer, which is that she was born between 805 and 810 AD into a wealthy Constantinople family; that she took part in the ‘bride show’ at which the new Emperor of Constantinople, Theophilos, chose his future wife; that she publicly humiliated him so that he chose another woman, Theodora; but that he never ceased to admire, and possibly love, Kassia, despite her religious views, which defied his policy of iconoclasm; and that, shortly before he died, he visited her and, while she hid from him, added a line to her hymn subsequently known as “The Fallen Woman”.
I have woven these facts and beliefs into a play about power and control, about men and women, about love and passion, which I hope will have resonances among audiences today.
(ages at the start of the play):
Kassia – a striking woman of about 20
Theodora – a plain woman of about 20
Anastasia – a pretty woman of about 20
Michael – a handsome man in his late 20s
Emperor Theophilos – a short boy of 17
Preview available here
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