Death and the City is a roleplay exercise for young people aged 11 and older. Drawing on a real-life outbreak of plague in the city of York in 1631, the piece casts its audience in the role of city aldermen who interrogate a series of characters acted by volunteers. In doing so, they begin to uncover seventeenth-century attitudes to disease, medical practice, and the role of social standing and religion.
Death and the City was trialled at the BSHS Annual Conference in Manchester, June 2007, and has been performed in full at
- the BA Festival of Science in York, September 2007 (school groups)
- Scientriffic 2008 at the Wrexham Science Festival, March 2008 (family groups)
- Introduction to the project: context, educational objectives and format
- Death and the City: the script (as used in the York production; pdf)
- Notes on the characters (pdf)
- Handbill for the York production (pdf)
- Photos from the York event
- Interview (audio and transcript) with Sabine Clarke and James Sumner for The Naked Scientists podcast and BBC Radio shows, recorded at the 2007 BA Festival.
For more information about Death and the City, or to express interest in arranging a presentation, please contact Sabine Clarke at [email protected].
Click to play video from the Wrexham event: (top to bottom) Parson Grimsworth inveighs against the godless luxuries of the citizenry; Dr Brightwell promotes his philosophical nostrums; the city aldermen face up to their dilemma
Cast and crew
Alderman Lightfoot: Terence Banks (York), Sabine Clarke (Wrexham)
Alderwoman Baxter: Sabine Clarke (York), Leucha Veneer (Wrexham)
Alderman Harvey: Tom Lean
Sergeant Sharpspeare, of the City Militia: Jeff Stout (York), Julia Hyland (Wrexham)
Parson Grimsworth: James Sumner
Dr Brightwell, BA, MA, PhD, LLB, FRCP: Mike Brown
Jenny Flanders: Melanie Keene
Mrs Maria Skegswell: Fern Elsdon-Baker
Alderpersons seated in audience (York): Lizzie Hunter, Rosie Wall
Specialist make-up by Julia Hyland
Script by Terence Banks and Sabine Clarke, with revisions and ad-libs from the cast