BEOWULF - July 22 - August 07, 2022

Book-It Repertory Theatre

 Beyond the Story 

A Message from the Artistic Director


Wesaþ hāle, my friends.


Alfred the Great, the Anglo-Saxon king who ruled England around 870 CE, has been cited by many scholars as "Great" not because of his conquests or wins in battle, of which there were few, but rather his commitment to education and literacy. In addition to his founding of the first schools in England for laypeople, he had a great many works translated from Latin into the fledging written language of English. Most of these titles concerned local law and writings on Christianity. The Textus Roffensis, Consolations of Philosophy, Pastoral Care, and, it is conjectured, Beowulf.


But why Beowulf


This is a story of the Scyldings and Geats, Scandinavian tribes now long disappeared. It is a story in which no English person appears. And while imbued with the Christianity of its transcribers, it begins and ends with Pagan ritual. 


There are many socio-political reasons guessed at in its selection, but my bet is ol' Alfie was just using his noggin. Give the people what they want. Before it was the first piece of fiction written in English, Beowulf was a tale told round the fire. Recited through the years by Scops, the wandering storytellers who made their living by spinning yarns, it stands to reason that this tale proved extremely popular. A tale of a hero fighting awful creatures who mean to do us harm and asking for nothing in return but the glory of extinguishing evil? Sheesh, tell me how that's NOT a Marvel movie. Perhaps, in the 6th century, Beowulf was a bit of a summer blockbuster and King Alfred just knew his audience.


And why has it survived? Because Beowulf is about a warrior who battles monsters, a theme embedded in our souls, part of our DNA as humans. Even today, we recognize its power, for monsters still lurk in the dark. Beautiful and poetic and bloody and bold, this tale has survived a thousand years so that we, too, can continue on. It remains, much like the plays of Shakespeare, one of the most well-known works in the world. And, like Shakespeare, it is best told out loud.


There is great magic in its bones, and it is with great pleasure that we now present it to you, our favorite of people.


Hear. Listen. Enjoy.


Gus Menary

Artistic Director

Director, Beowulf


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