Ex-Student to Become First Female Playwright At Shakespeare’s Globe


London’s Globe Theatre, famous for being the venue where William Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed, has seen a variety of performances from every era in its modern incarnation. But this month it will experience something new, something unheard of in the 400 years since it was built: A play by a woman.

Nell Leyshon brings her critically acclaimed work, ‘Bedlam’, to the theatre this month, and in doing so becomes the first female playwright to have her work performed at the globe. The play is an 18th Century costume drama set in the infamous lunatic asylum. The plot revolves around love and insanity in the midst of gin soaked Victorian London. In the opening scenes a woman admitted to the asylum is forced to drink ‘vile purges’ in order to make her vomit.  Sound a bit like a macabre version of a Monday night in Jesters?  Perhaps this is no coincidence. Nell Leyshon is a graduate of our very own Southampton University. A former English student, she began her writing career during her time at university, penning novels and short stories in between lectures.

She’s about to make history at the globe, 400 years on from when it was illegal for a woman to appear on stage

Leyshon’s life story is seemingly guided by the phrase, ‘never give up on your dreams’. She started her degree at 24, turning her back on a promising advertising career to come down to Southampton University and study English. She had a baby in her first year, but continued her studies. After graduating she took a teaching job to pay her bills, but continued to write. After some years without any success, she lit a bonfire in her back garden and burnt all her old work.

Many years later, her luck would turn and she began garnering success with her new novels and plays. Now an award winning novelist and playwright, she’s about to make history at the globe, 400 years on from when it was illegal for a woman to appear on stage, she will have her play ‘Bedlam’ performed on that very stage.

The play runs until October 1st, so if you are in London head to the Globe to see a bit of history take place. Tickets are cheaper than the West End, and you never know, for fellow Southampton students, the boozy lunatic asylum may seem a little close to home.


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