January 31, 2022

If the History of Queers Has Been One of Violence and Erasure, How Should Queers Respond When They Get the Chance to Write History Themselves?

Matthew Gray

Screenplay (Short)Christopher Marlowe Must Die, 2022

“Shakespeare” and “Elizabeth I” have come to operate as metonyms for England as a whole, in some idealised form. CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE MUST DIE violates their reverence, revealing “Shakespeare” to be a myth and claiming a virginity which became symbolic of England’s own sanctity. It is “queer” in multiple senses, especially in its irreverence for history and form. Queer spaces, sensibilities, and humour refuse to be relegated or diluted but intrude where they might otherwise not be welcomed: in a heritage drama (a genre synonymous with cultural colonisation – remember “the British are coming”?).

Funnily enough, there are plausible origins in both the authorship question and the mysterious circumstances surrounding Marlowe’s death. Both Edward and Christopher are personal talismans for me, having staged a complete rewrite of Marlowe’s EDWARD II in response to the increase in queerphobia palpably witnessed throughout the summer of 2019. Edward is an ultimate symbol of queerphobic violence and straight-washing (see BRAVEHEART). I believe the trial shortly before Marlowe’s death was motivated by queerphobia. My otherness (queer and Scottish) delights in vandalising dominance (hetero and English). However, in the end, two educated white men have enacted misogynistic sexual violence. We ask: are they really any better?