Making Massinger final web image
16 July 2021




Wiltshire Creative today announce the extended run of the world première of Making Massinger, an elegantly witty but passionate revenge tragedy written by Simon Butteriss and directed by Butteriss and Wiltshire Creative Artistic Director Gareth Machin. This new audio play is performed by Samuel Barnett (Phillip Massinger), Edward Bennett (William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke), Hubert Burton (John Fletcher), Julia Hills (Katherine Mompesson), Jane How (Mary, Dowager Countess of Pembroke), Nina Wadia (Mistress Froth). Recorded on the main stage of Salisbury Playhouse, Making Massinger is free to listen to and available now HERE until 31 August. 

Making Massinger joins the dots between the very few historical facts available about the life of Salisbury-born playwright Philip Massinger; a playwright whose output, alone and in collaboration, matched or exceeded that of his contemporary William Shakespeare, but whose name has been virtually forgotten. Written in the style of a Massinger revenge tragicomedy, Making Massinger sets out to discover the truth behind the playwright’s descent into relative obscurity. 

In order to write his passionately argued plays, the play imagines that Massinger had to endure the sexual assault and rejection of his patrons and the betrayal of his friends and colleagues. His nemesis, however, was the malice of self-righteous philistines who hated his ability to turn their moral certainties upside down, who were intolerant of his tolerance, who engineered that his published plays should be attributed to Beaumont and Fletcher, and who contrived to destroy his unpublished plays. Massinger was, in modern parlance, cancelled.  

Simon Butteriss“Intrigued by the fact that Philip Massinger shared the Southwark Cathedral grave of John Fletcher, I began to root out the few facts available and join the dots with fictional but historically plausible threads. It was fascinating to immerse myself in the struggles of an artist of that period, to be struck by similarities between the hurdles, joys and frustrations of an artist in Massinger’s times and those we encounter in our own, to explore the mystery of what happened to him and his legacy, and to attempt to create a play – a revenge tragicomedy - in the style of so unjustly neglected a playwright.”

Gareth Machin“Wiltshire Creative is committed to original drama and to supporting local talent. Making Massinger fits this commitment perfectly – a brilliant contemporary Salisbury playwright sharing a fascinating tale about a curiously forgotten one. Simon’s enthusiasm and intrigue for this little known 17th century playwright is infectious. It is impressive how adeptly he reads between the lines of recorded histories and vividly brings this world and its players to life. I am delighted that we have been able to bring the play to production, in the face of the pandemic, and with such a fantastic cast.”

Making Massinger was commissioned by Wiltshire Creative (an organisation that brings together the energy and ambition of Salisbury Arts Centre, Salisbury International Arts Festival and Salisbury Playhouse) and adapted for audio-transmission by Simon Butteriss.


A 17th Century Salisbury Scandal
By Simon Butteriss

Directed by Simon Butteriss and Gareth Machin

In a world where heresy is certain death and art relies on aristocratic whim, blackmail, political intrigue and sexual assault thrive. 

In 17th century Salisbury, the young playwright Philip Massinger, uncovering the horrible truth about his father’s death, finds that both the young Earl of Pembroke and the voracious dowager Countess want much more than plays in return for their patronage.

Fleeing to London to wreak revenge with his writing, Massinger plunges into a hurly-burly where lovers and friends seem to be every bit as treacherous as enemies. Philip Massinger’s own plays precariously balanced elegant comedy with revenge tragedy. Making Massinger imagines that his life did, too.

Samuel Barnett plays Philip Massinger. He is a two-time Tony nominee and has performed extensively on stage, television and film. Barnett received an Olivier nomination for originating the role of Posner in the original cast of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys (National Theatre/Broadhurst Theatre) and plays the title role in BBC America’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Other theatre credits include His Dark Materials, The Beaux Stratagem (National Theatre), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Chichester Theatre and National Theatre), Richard III, Twelfth Night (Shakespeare’s Globe/Apollo Theatre/Belasco Theatre), Allelujah! (Bridge Theatre) and Kiss of the Spider Woman (Menier Chocolate Factory). For television, his credits include Twenty Twelve, Penny Dreadful, Endeavour, Not Safe for Work, Vicious and Shakespeare in Italy. For film, his credits include The Lady in the Van, Jupiter Ascending, Bright Star and The History Boys.

Edward Bennett plays William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. His theatre credits include Macbeth, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Much Ado About Nothing, Love Labour’s Won, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet (Royal Shakespeare Company), Watership Down (The Watermill Theatre), Photograph 51 (Michael Grandage Company), Orson’s Shadows (Jagged Fence Productions), The Rehearsal, Hay Fever (Chichester Festival Theatre), Things We Do for Love, The School for Scandal, In the Next Room, Little Nell, Pygmalion, Habeas Corpus, Measure for Measure (Theatre Royal Bath), One Man Two Guvnors (National Theatre), In the Next Room (St James Theatre), Lovesong (Frantic Assembly), Then the Snow Came, Three Farces, Skin Game, Diana of Dobsons, Nan (Orange Tree Theatre), Plenty (Sheffield Crucible), As You Like It and The Tempest (The Bridge Project), Othello (Donmar Warehouse), Alice in Wonderland (Bristol Old Vic), Faustus (Etcetera), The Importance of Being Earnest (York Theatre Royal), Charley’s Aunt (Exeter Theatre) and Hay Fever (Theatr Clwyd). For television, his credits include Industry, Pennyworth, Save Me Too, Poldark, Victoria, Miranda, The Perfectionists, Above Suspicion - The Red Dahlia, After You’re Gone and Silent Witness. For film, his credits include The Laureate, Benediction, 55 Steps, Love’s Labour’s Lost/Love Labours Won, Skyfall, War Horse, Hamlet and Friends Just United.

Hubert Burton plays John Fletcher. His credits for theatre include September in the  Mancoin (Vault Festival), The Inheritance (Young Vic/Noël Coward Theatre), Deep Blue Sea, Waste (National Theatre) and She Stoops to Conquer (Theatre Royal Bath). For television, his credits include The Last Post, Jekyll and Hyde, 100 Days of UKIP, The Outcast, and The Passing Bells, and for film, Living, The Most Reluctant Convert, Their Finest and Testament of Youth.

Julia Hills plays Katherine Mompesson. Her credits for theatre include Calendar Girls the Musical (Phoenix Theatre/UK tour), Piaf, Entertaining Mr Sloane (Leicester Curve), The Cherry Orchard (Tobacco Factory/Rose Theatre Kingston), The Glass Menagerie (Cheltenham Everyman), Beside Herself (Royal Court Theatre), Pygmalion (Manchester Royal Exchange), Our Friends in the North (RSC), Flying Under Bridges (Watford Palace), The Hired Man (Leicester Haymarket/Queen’s Theatre), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Savoy Theatre), Larkin with Women (Belgrade Coventry), Springs Eternal, Dealing with Clair (Orange Tree Theatre), Stepping Out (New Vic), Hamlet, The School for Scandal (Tobacco Factory), The Borrowers (Nuffield Theatre Southampton) and Poppy(RSC/Barbican). For television, her credits include 2 Point 4 Children, Who Dares Wins, Boomers, Outnumbered as ‘Babs’, Ladies in Charge and Small Town Politics, and for film, Homeground and All In The Game.

Jane How plays Mary, Dowager Countess of Pembroke. Her theatre credits include The Sweet Science of Bruising (Wilton’s Music Hall), Half A Sixpence (Chichester Festival Theatre/Noël Coward Theatre), Elizabeth I’s Court (Hampton Court), Fatal Attraction (Theatre Royal Haymarket), My Fair Lady (Théâtre du Châtelet), The Ring of Truth (Orange Tree Theatre), Home and Beauty (Lyric Theatre), Noël Coward Tonight (Jermyn Street Theatre), The Young Idea (Chester Gateway), Daphne (Basingstoke), The Breadwinner, Gaslight (UK tours), Summer Lightning(Bath and Salisbury), California Suite, Hay Fever, High Society (Sheffield Crucible), Don’t Dress for Dinner (Apollo Theatre), Crime & Punishment (Manchester Royal Exchange), Easy Virtue (Garrick Theatre), Oh Kay, Cavalcade, Getting Married (Chichester Festival Theatre) and The Return of A.J. Raffles (RSC). For television, her credits include Anatomy of a Scandal, His Dark Materials, The Sound of Music Live!, X Company, Love and Marriage, Starlings 2, M.I High, Bones, Compulsion, The Real Deal, Judge John Deed, Love Soup, Pinochet’s Progress, Riot at the Rite, Queen of the Night, The Royal, Byron, Daniel Deronda, The Other Woman, Bad Girls, Armadillo, Love in a Cold Climate, The Cazalet Chronicles, Pilgrims Rest, Class Act, Ellington, Stick with Me Kid, Lovejoy, Anglo Saxon Attitudes, Cribb, Crown Court, Don’t Forget to Write, Helen Latimer in Don’t Wait Up, The Spoils of War, Anno Domini, Doctor Who, General Hospital, Made in Heaven, Roots, Take Three Women, Ten from the Twenties, The Citadel, The Foundation Series, The Little Princess, Unhappily Ever After, Charles and Diana, Matlock and War and Remembrance. For film, her credits include Cruella, Mr Jones, Je Suis Daddy, Mother’s Milk, Deathless, First Night, Beyond the Pole, Miss Potter, 8mm, Rabbit Fever, The Best Man, Good Woman A.K.A. and Zoya. 

Nina Wadia plays Mistress Froth. Her theatre credits include Matchbox Theatre (Hampstead Theatre), The Vagina Monologues (Mark Goucher Ltd), Tales from Firozsha Baag (National Theatre), Macbeth (Greenwich Theatre/UK tour), Goodness Gracious Me Live Tour, Women of The Dust (Tamasha Theatre Company) and House Of The Sun, D’Yer Eat With Your Fingers (Theatre Royal Stratford East). For television, her credits include Goodness Gracious Me, as series regular Zainab Masood  in EastEnders, The Offenders, Sandman, Too Close, Death in Paradise, Isolation Stories, Skins, The Danny & Mick Show, Origin, Maxxx, Trollied, Zapped, Champions, Coconut, The Last Dragonslayer, Hetty Feather, Murder On The Blackpool Express, Holby City as ‘Annabelle Cooper’, Hank Zipzer, Rhyme Time Town, Citizen Khan, Still Open All Hours, Perfect World, Chambers, All About Me, Mongrels, Doctor Who, West 10 Ldn, Waking the Dead, The Hitmen and The Vicar Of Dibley. For film, her credits include Aladdin, Code 46, A Gift from Bob, Followers, The Queen’s Corgi, Namastey London, Together, Strangeways Here We Come, I Can’t Think Straight, Finding Fatimah, A Streetcat Named Bob and Bend It Like Beckham. 

Simon Butteriss writes and directs. Butteriss is an acclaimed opera singer, writer and director. He has written, translated and directed for stage, screen, opera house, concert hall and radio. His credits as a writer include A Motley Pair, A Salaried Wit and A Gooseberry Fool (Sky Arts), I Am The Very Model (BBC), Let’s Make An Opera(Britten Estate commission), opera libretti Voltaire’s Amphibian and Signor Kelly’s Souffle. As a director, his credits include The Merry Widow, The Yeomen of the Guard and Die Fledermaus (Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Festival Hall), Iolanthe, Princess Ida, The Mikado (National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, Buxton Opera House and UK tours), The Mikado and HMS Pinafore (Raymond Gubbay UK tour) Orpheus in the Underworld (Opera Danube) and La Colombe (West Green House Opera). He has made versions of and translated numerous operas and operettas, commissioned by Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Aldeburgh Festival, Brighton Festival, Covent Garden Festival, Wigmore Hall, RTE Orchestra, London Handel Festival, Opera Danube and many more. As an opera singer, he has sung roles at La Scala, Milan, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Barcelona Liceu, Paris Chatelet, Bregenzer Festspiele, Oper Köln, Muscat Royal Opera, Aix en Provence, Vienna Festival, Garsington Opera, Grange Park Opera, Almeida Opera, Aldeburgh Opera, Opera Holland Park, Welsh National Opera, London Contemporary Opera and he is a regular guest principal at English National Opera, where his repertoire includes roles by Puccini, Ligeti, Offenbach, Britten, Strauss, Bernstein and Lehar.  As an actor he has appeared in the West End, with the RSC, at Chichester and on film, television and radio.