Lady Jane Lumley's Iphigenia - some background

The Tragedie of Euripedes called Iphigeneia dramatizes how Iphigenia is brought to Aulis to be sacrificed so that the Greek ships can sail to Troy. It was first ‘translated out of Greake into Englisshe’ c.1555  by Lady Jane Lumley, and has only been performed twice in modern times. It is the first known dramatic text by a woman in English. Lumley’s script shows how Iphigenia is physically, politically and emotionally imprisoned: caught between the demands of her father Agamemnon (the Greek commander) and her mother Clytemnestra who strives to save her daughter’s life through marriage to the hero Achilles. This production will emphasize the limits of female agency and the possibilities to transcend them offered by Lumley’s script, and by all-female productions.

Lady Jane Lumley’s sixteenth-century translation of Euripedes’ tragedy, the first to appear in English, engages directly with issues of imprisonment, freedom of choice and gendered identity. Her tragic heroine transcends the stalemate of her parents’ quarrel by declaring

"I will offer my selfe willing to deathe, for my countrie"


 Iphigenia’s courage and resolution contrasts with Agamemnon’s cowardice, indecision and deceit. Fearing the Greek army (the ‘host’), his wife’s reaction, and his own inability to carry out the sacrifice of his daughter, Agamemnon pretends that he has summoned Iphigenia to be married to Achilles. Lumley suggests that in both cases, the reduction of a woman to a ‘commoditie’ to be trafficked between men is wrong.


Iphigenia’s story had immediate relevance for the translator, Lady Jane Lumley, since her father, Lord Arundel, had sacrificed her cousin, Lady Jane Grey to be executed at the hands of Catholic Mary Tudor. Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen of England on 9th October 1553 but ruled for only nine days before she was imprisoned in the Tower of London and executed on 12 February 1554. Euripedes’ tragedy is an ideal vehicle to express the sense of guilt, loss, blame and anger which must have hung over the Lumley household.

Lumley’s translation is daring in finding moments of dark comedy in the ludicrous situations faced by the protagonists. It also speaks out against a tradition of male, military valour, since Lumley’s Greek hero is Iphigenia.   



The Rose Company was established in 2013 out of the love of classic and historical performance texts and a belief in gender justice. This first production represents their commitment to bringing historical texts to contemporary life.




Iphigenia Development meeting/casting


October 1st, 7:30 PM The Lord Ashton


The Rose Company : Iphigenia and more




We are an all-female classical theatre company based in Lancaster, performing neglected gems by women writers as well as plays by Shakespeare and other canonical texts.

We are now developing our production of Jane Lumley’s Iphigenia for performance in Lancaster and on tour in November 2013 and we are looking for women actors to take part.

If you are interested in this or future projects do come along and/or get in touch. You will find us on Facebook, Twitter (@TheRoseCompany), and

*Please note The Rose Company is a profit-share theatre company

Our first show!

It happened! The Rose Company performed Lady Jane Lumley's Iphigenia in The Minghella Building at Reading University on July 9th to a receptive academic audience. Here are a few images from the Dress Rehearsal - and see Emma the director's blog for more. We're going to be reviving the production in November - venues to be arranged and will be looking to add to the cast. Watch this space for details of next meetings/auditions.

First meeting for The Rose Company - Auditions for Iphigenia - 20th May 7 PM - The Borough, Lancaster


The Rose Company is a newly formed Lancaster-based all-female theatre company  We specialise in bringing historical texts to contemporary life.

To that end, our first production will be Lady Jane Lumley's adaptation of Euripides' Iphigenia At Aulis, which is the first translation of Euripides into English and the first known dramatic work by a woman in English. It is a dynamic, surprisingly modern-feeling translation of the Greek and will be a challenging and fun text to work with and perform.

The date for this performance is the evening of Tuesday July 9th and the venue is the Minghella Theatre at Reading University; the performance is part of an academic conference being held at Reading that week.

Rehearsals, provisionally, will take place in Lancaster (venue to be confirmed) on the weekends of June 22nd/23rd and 29th/30th, as well as the evenings of the week before the show - July 1st to 6th. We intend to travel to Reading early on the 9th (by train - unless performers wish to drive) and return the following day, hopefully staying in university accommodation overnight - keeping everything as cheap and manageable as possible.

We would then like to revive the show in the autumn and perform in the north-west. Future productions will follow...

We are holding a reading/casting for the show on Monday 20th May at 7pm, upstairs in The Borough, Lancaster - and we would love to see you there!  Please RSVP to letting us know your availability/interest. Additionally, do consider coming along to the meeting, even if you are unavailable for this first show. The Iphigenia needs a cast of 8; future productions are likely to be larger, so it would be great to start a network of women performers and creatives of all kinds. If you are not Lancaster-based, but would like to be included in future communications, again, please let us know.

Best wishes,

Emma Rucastle (director) 

on behalf of The Rose Company  (founder members Aliki Chapple, Alison Findlay, Ruth Gregson, and Emma Rucastle).


Twitter: @The RoseCompany