The Monarch of Wit: a celebration of the life and mind of John Donne

By Jolyon Mitchell
March 10, 2013

PLEASE NOTE: The Monarch of Wit: The Life and Work of John Donne has had to be postponed from this Thursday until later in the year due to the main actor going down with flu. Details about a new date for this show will follow.


A live performance, followed by a discussion, on the Life and Work of John Donne will take place at 4.15pm, Thursday 14 March 2013. Martin Hall, New College, the University of Edinburgh, EH1 2LX. The show is entitled The Monarch of Wit: a celebration of the life and mind of John Donne.

Places are available through registration on EventBrite: The event is co-sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) and the Centre for Theology and Public Issues (CTPI) at the University of Edinburgh.

Every word in this performance was written by John Donne. The excerpts are taken from his letters, sermons, meditations and poems. It lasts 50 minutes. It will be followed by a discussion with Professor Oliver O'Donovan and Dr Fionnuala O'Neill (Department of English), as well as the director and writer Stephen Siddall and the actor James Clarkson, who plays Donne.

James Clarkson: Recent theatre includes The Constant Wife and A Month in the Country (Salisbury Playhouse), The Rivals (Theatre Royal Bath), Blithe Spirit (Theatre Royal York), Black Coffee (Westcliff), Arsenic and Old Lace (Theatre Royal Windsor and national tour), Educating Rita and The Circle (Hamburg), The Woman in Black (Dubai). In London: An Inspector Calls (West End), Dear Brutus and A Busy Day (King’s Head) and Edward II (Battersea Arts Centre). On screen: Mayhew’s Londoners for Sir Jonathan Miller (BBC2), Anil Rao’s The Score, Doctors (BBC1) and anchorman for the Pisang Ambon commercials.

Stephen Siddall was Head of English at The Leys School Cambridge, and now does occasional teaching for several Cambridge colleges. He has directed dozens of plays, including eight plays for the Pendley Shakespeare Festival and 15 renaissance plays for the university and city at Cambridge Arts Theatre. Since then he has directed A Doll’s House and Waiting for Godot. He has also directed for BBC2. Cambridge University Press has published two of his books on Shakespeare.

Oliver O’Donovan was Professor of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology at the University of Edinburgh until 2012. He was Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology and Canon of Christ Church at the University of Oxford from 1982 until 2006.

Dr Fionnuala O'Neill holds an MA in English Literature from the University of Cambridge, an MSc by Research and PhD from the University of Edinburgh. She is currently a post-doctoral researcher in the English Department at the University of Edinburgh. She is the founder and co-ordinator of “The Sirenaics”, Edinburgh’s early modern drama reading group, and is a biography reviewer for the James Tait Black Literary Awards.

* Centre for Theology and Public Issues:

* Public Theology - the CTPI blog:



© Jolyon Mitchell is Professor of Communications, Arts and Religion, and also Director of the Centre for Theology and Public Issues, at the University of Edinburgh. He is a former BBC World Service producer and journalist. His latest book (ed.) with Owen Gower, is Religion and the News (Ashgate, 2012).

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