'Tamburlaine the Great
' is a play in two parts by Christopher Marlowe.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamburlaine_(play)#Plot
" . . . we'll lead you to the stately tent of war,
Where you shall hear the Scythian Tamburlaine
Threatening the world with high astounding terms,
And scourging kingdoms with his conquering sword."
In these words, Christopher Marlowe fixed forever the European image of Tamburlaine, still a legendary force in Elizabethan England. A couple of hundred years earlier, around 1400, the real Tamerlane had become the ruler of all the Mongol lands except China. The heart of his empire was the region we now know as the "stans
" - Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan - that huge area in central Asia that has always had a tumultuous history, where empires build, crumble, fade away - until another empire rises and the cycle begins again. As the American Empire begins to crumble at the beginning of the twenty-first century, are China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, amongst many other powers, all jostling to take America's place in Asia? Central Asia is a region that has inevitably always had two faces - one looking towards China in the east and the other to Turkey and Iran in the west. Samarkand, Tamerlane's capital, was a major city on the great Silk Road that linked these two worlds, and much of this complex cultural and religious history is embodied in a small jade cup in the British Museum, that belonged to Tamerlane's astronomer grandson, the Timurid emperor, Ulugh Beg. The cup's handle is a splendid, sinister, Chinese dragon. It has got its back paws firmly planted on the under side of the bowl, while its mouth and webbed front paws cling to the edge at the top. The style of the handle may be Chinese, but the inscription carved into the cup, which you see as you lift it to your lips, is in Arabic script. It reads "Ulugh Beg Kuragan
". Kuragan is a title that means literally "royal son-in-law
" and it was used by Tamurlane, and by Ulugh Beg. They had both married princesses of the house of Genghis Khan, and so by calling themselves son-in-law, they declared themselves the heirs to the universal sovereignty of Genghis Khan's Mongol Empire. Like all new dynasties, the Timurid's wanted to appropriate the authority of their predecessors.http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/MeHtWABVSaaHNHl4ndc4rQ
Christopher Marlowe's 'Tamburlaine
' is loosely based on the life of the Central Asian emperor, Timur "the lame
". Written in 1587 or 1588, the play is a milestone in Elizabethan public drama; it marks a turning away from the clumsy language and loose plotting of the earlier Tudor dramatists, and a new interest in fresh and vivid language, memorable action, and intellectual complexity. Along with Thomas Kyd's 'The Spanish Tragedy
', it may be considered the first popular success of London's public stage. As for more recent performance on stage, the Royal National Theatre (NT) production in 1976 featured Albert Finney in the title role; this production opened the new Olivier Theatre on London's South Bank. Peter Hall directed. This production is generally considered the most successful of the rare modern productions. In 1993, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) performed an award-winning production of the play, with Antony Sher as Tamburlaine and Tracy-Ann Oberman as Olympia. Jeff Dailey directed both parts of the play, uncut, at the American Theatre of Actors in New York City. He presented Part I in 1997 and Part II in 2003, both in the outdoor theatre located in the courtyard of 314 West 54th Street. Avery Brooks played the lead role in a production of the play for the Shakespeare Theatre Company. The play ran from October 28, 2007 to January 6, 2008 and was directed by Michael Kahn. While the play has been revived periodically over the past century, the obstacles it presents—a large cast and an actor capable of performing in such a challenging role chief among them—have prevented more widespread performance. In general, the modern playgoer may still echo FP Wilson's question, asked at mid-century, "How many of us can boast that we are more than readers of Tamburlaine?
In November 2005, a production of 'Tamburlaine
' at the Barbican Arts Centre in London was accused of deferring to Muslim sensibilities by amending a section of the play in which the title character burns the Quran and excoriates the prophet Muhammad. The sequence was changed so that Tamburlaine instead defiles books representing all religious texts. The director denied censoring the play, stating that the change was a "purely artistic
" decision "to focus the play away from anti-Turkish pantomime to an existential epic
". This weekend, Drama on 3 broadcasts a new radio production of Christopher Marlowe's sixteenth century play about the growth to tyrannical power of a Scythian shepherd. 'Tamburlaine
' is a classic drama said to have changed the course of British drama and to have influenced the young William Shakespeare. This is the first in a series of three plays from BBC Radio 3 which portray the ruthlessness and dilemmas of absolute rule.
Con O'Neill takes the title role in the radio production as Tamburlaine the Great
. Will Con be greater still? Due to unprecedented demand from around the world, everyone reading R3OK is cordially invited to listen live to 'Tamburlaine
' at 20:30 (BST) on Sunday, 16 September 2012. Join us all online, or better still, even off! Three cheers from kleines c (tea)! http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01mnscl