Playwright Mike Punter gives lecture "1066: THREE KINGS Making Drama from History"

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The History department held its first History conversation of the semester on Tuesday, February 9th via zoom. The covid-19 pandemic has certainly changed the way we hold events, but we had a great turnout for this zoom lecture and discussion, with nearly 50 people attending! We were very happy to have Mike Punter join us. Mike has been teaching as part of our London Study group (offered to both History and Theater students) since 2009. In addition to his teaching, Mike is a playwright whose work often centers around historical materials. In his talk, Mike focused on his recent play "1066: Three Kings," about the Norman Conquest, and how it was shaped by historical sources.

The play, 1066: THREE KINGS, centers around the battle of Hastings, that took place in 1066, and follows the lives of the three kings: Harold, Edwards and William. This three act, 100 minute play is a modern mystery, and aims to challenge the audience’s preconceptions of who won the battle. The story is told through a framing device in which the character Wulf Godwain tells the story of the battle years after it unfolded. This format allows the story to be told without a central hero, and exposes the audience to multiple perspectives of the events through the stories of the three kings. The play premiered in Hastings, England in 2016, commissioned by Root 1066 Festival/Arts Council England. It was a Stables Theatre Production, directed by Barbara Ward and Niall Whitehead and featured a cast of nearly all youth actors. In his talk Punter detailed his inspirations and writing process, and explored several questions: how he dealt with conflicting historical records, how contemporary politics (i.e. Brexit) shaped his writing, and how the work of a playwright differs from that of a historian.