The Lament of Dorothy Wordsworth

PenPal productions visited us in Cumbria on the 9th and 10th of July to present a 50-minute one-woman play called ‘The Lament of Dorothy Wordsworth’ – both  here in Cockermouth at the Kirkgate Centre and at the Settlement, Maryport.

‘The Lament of Dorothy Wordsworth’ is written by Jane Sunderland; the Director of this production is Melloney Flinn; Jill Franklin is the dramaturg and she and Jane Sunderland are co-producers. Dorothy is played by Gillian Massey, a Glasgow-based actor with several years’ experience in theatre and live performance.

Jane wrote this this play with an awareness both that women artists are often undervalued, and that the support they provide to their husbands and male relations is rarely fully appreciated. In this case, Dorothy carried out a huge amount of both domestic and, far more importantly, creative work for her more famous brother William. She also cultivated the Dove Cottage Garden with him, walked with him over the hills and assiduously wrote her journal, the sensitive and detailed observations in which William frequently drew on for his poetry. In the play Jane imagines the discussions, and perhaps arguments, Dorothy and William might have had about different phrasings – and at Dorothy’s response when she learns that their idyllic life together is about to change.

‘The Lament of Dorothy Wordsworth’ was performed over thirteen days at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2019.

The performance was followed by a creative writing workshop on both days, encouraging participants to explore their own creativity through the art of poetry