Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Visual and Performing Arts
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Music | Other Music | Theatre and Performance Studies
I wrote and performed a one-woman show entitled Jane, the Quene, about the life, reign, and death of Lady Jane Grey, the 9-day Queen of England in 1553. With the help of my advisor, Lauren Unbekant, I created my piece in a physical storytelling style in which I played all of the characters, adopting different voices, physicalities, and slight costume modifications to distinguish between them. I collaborated with film, costume, set, lighting, and sound designers to create my final product, and the whole project took about a year to complete. I had begun my research in London the previous March, as it was then that I first encountered the story of Jane. That encounter started me down a long and fulfilling artistic journey, culminating in the weekend of March 20th, 21st, and 22nd, when I finally performed my play for a combined audience of more than one hundred twenty people.
My reason for performing this piece was to tell a version of Jane’s story that had seldom been told before. The theme of my play focused on Jane’s Protestant beliefs and how they helped her, at the very end of her life, to reclaim her will. My purpose in creating it, also, was simply to share Jane with an audience, for I believed that she had been shamefully neglected in the retelling of English History. When I visited the Tower of London, I noticed that Jane’s name was missing from the border of placards listing the chronological order of all the English monarchs. Her unwanted reign, carelessly manufactured by the ambitious adults around her, had led to her death sentence, and yet today she was not even recognized as ever having been a legitimate English Queen. I was appalled. Jane’s innocence only survives as long as her memory, and so I believed it crucial that people continue to hear her story.
My project allowed me the opportunity to delve into a period of history in which I had always had an interest, but upon which I had seldom acted before. It also gave me the chance to create and perform my own work for the first time, which was quite a thrill. But most importantly, it provided me with the resources and the focus necessary to tell the story of a girl who requested only one thing: that people in the years to come would hear of her death, realize her innocence, and “show [her] more favour” than those alive during her lifetime. Jane, the Quene did not bring Jane back from the dead, nor did it lengthen her tragically short life, but Jane would not have wanted that anyway. She had made peace with her death, knowing in her heart that she was innocent, and knowing further that God recognized her innocence as well. When people came up to me after my performances and said how taken they were with the character of Jane, or how moved they were by my play and by her death, I realized that, in a small way, I had made part of her last wish come true.
Wrinn, Kathleen, "Jane, the Quene" (2009). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 407.
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