new theatre


Bess takes centre stage in this one-woman show, mixing theatre with film

First Art is proud to present a new play from Kevin Fegan.

Surprisingly, this is the first drama to capture this extraordinary woman and her extraordinary times.

During a life of over 80 years, Bess rose from being a Derbyshire farmer’s daughter with 400 acres to become Elizabeth Countess of Shrewsbury with 400,000 acres. The life and times of Bess of Hardwick is in every way an epic life-telling.

Midst all this she would marry four times, become a Lady-in-Waiting and confidante of Queen Elizabeth 1st – “jailor” to Mary Queen of Scots, even spend time herself in The Tower of London and become the founding mother of the Cavendish dynasty, the Dukes of Devonshire.

Three of the most iconic women of the age: Elizabeth Tudor Queen of England, Mary Stuart Queen of Scots and Bess Hardwick – The Commoner Queen embroidered into the same tapestry - when all about them were men.

Over 400 years later the Bess legacy lives on today through the country’s most titled and wealthiest families notably via the Cavendish-Bentinck line to Queen Elizabeth II.

Read our in-depth interview with playwright Kevin Fegan here.



In the First Art Area:

Full preview performance: Creswell Social Centre, Elmton Road, Creswell, S80 4BH

Friday 22nd September, 7pm. Book tickets using the Eventbrite button below. 

At The Guildhall Theatre, Derby


Thursday 28th and Friday 29th – 7:30pm

Saturday 30th – 1pm and 6pm


Sunday 1st – 2:30pm

(BSL signed performance followed by post-show discussion in the bar after the show)

Tickets £13.75 (concessions, online, group and school rates available)

Age guidance 12 +

Box office 01332 255800

Tickets are available online, via Derby Live. Just click here

Commissioned by First Art

Funded by Arts Council England

In association with Derby Live

Playwright Kevin Fegan

Director Rikki Tarascas

Filmmaker Will Simpson

Bess Michelle Todd

A return for Playwright Kevin Fegan whose last work at The Guildhall Theatre, Slave, won the Pete Postlethwaite Best New Play, Manchester Theatre Awards

‘Britain’s most innovative playwright’ Plays International

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