Royal Shakespeare Company veteran Eileen Page gave her final stage performance last year at Tara Theatre, reprising her legendary performance in one-woman history play Eleanor of Aquitaine. Tara Arts has teamed up with independent producer B7 Media to release an audio version of Page’s performance, now available to purchase on CD and digital download (priced £9.95).
Eleanor of Aquitaine: Mother of the Pride, written by the late Catherine Muschamp, showcases a remarkable one-woman performance by veteran actress Eileen Page, bringing to life a formidable woman, far ahead of her time. Eleanor Aquitaine (1137-1204) witnessed and influenced some of the Middle Ages’ most dramatic events, including the murder of Thomas Becket and her own rivalry with Henry II’s mistress, ‘fair’ Rosamund Clifford. A woman of extraordinary courage, beauty and iron will – uniquely, Queen of France then Queen of England and mother of two English Kings – Eleanor of Aquitaine’s name was legendary even before her death.
On recreating her acclaimed stage performance for audio Eileen Page says:
“It was marvellous to have the security of being able to play it (Eleanor) for audio. Where audio scores, for me, is it gives the listener the opportunity to see and costume the performance in their heads, and what I hope to have done with Eleanor, is to make her available for future generations.”
Eileen Page‘s 70-year career encompasses Shakespeare, contemporary writers, musical theatre, film and television. Her long association with the RSC included Peter Brook’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost, Henry V with Paul Scofield, Mother Courage, Richard II, The Winter’s Tale and Waste with Judi Dench.
Page first performed Catherine Muschamp’s play 22 years ago. In May 2018, the play was revived for three performances only, as part of Tara Arts’ “I’ll Say It Again!” month-long festival of work by female artists, celebrating the centenary of women’s suffrage in the UK. Tara Arts Artistic Director Jatinder Verma says: “Eileen Page’s Eleanor has all the mellifluous poise, resolve and wit you would expect of the only woman to have ruled England and France. A tour de force!”
B7 Media’s Executive Producer, Andrew Mark Sewell, explains why he wanted to release this new audio edition:
“Upon watching Eileen Page’s commanding one-woman performance as the legendary Eleanor of Aquitaine, it immediately struck me that her performance was crying out to be recorded for audio and preserved for future generations to relish. I’m delighted that Eileen agreed to perform the role one last time for audio, which, rather appropriately, we recorded at the Tara Theatre, the venue in which, after a 22-year association with the role, Eileen gave her final stage performance.”
Sisters Rachelle and Natalie Muschamp say of the audio dramatisation: “Catherine spent her life in devotion to theatre. After her passing in 2007, we have been extremely grateful to Eileen Page, who kept the spirit of Eleanor alive, by doing an amazing job as an actress. We are very grateful to Eileen and B7 Media for engaging in the recording of this wonderful play, ensuring that it will still be heard for many more years to come. Catherine would have been very proud.”