Knight of the Burning Pestle (2010)

Production Concept

The Knight of the Burning Pestle is a play about a group of actors trying to put on a play. Their play is called The London Merchant, and it's an enjoyable but fairly conventional romantic comedy about young lovers who have to struggle against their parents' wishes and rival suitors in order to be together.

What makes The Knight of the Burning Pestle interesting is that these actors' performance of The London Merchant is interrupted by members of the audience, who insist on introducing a new storyline into the show. This new storyline is based on the character of Don Quixote and is completely unrelated to the romantic comedy plot of The London Merchant

So what we get in this production of Knight is several levels of theatricality and multiple plays-within-the-play: Ithaca Shakespeare actors are playing the actors in the fictional theatre company and the audience members who interrupt them. These fictional actors and audience members then play roles in The London Merchant and the Don Quixote storylines, both of which are plays within the larger play that is The Knight of the Burning Pestle. This complicated structure is difficult to describe but is perfectly clear when you see the play in performance.

As part of our approach to the play, we've taken the metatheatre of the script to its logical end. We've invented a fictional theatre company called the Ithaca Performance Ensemble and Community Arts Collective, and in our production, that's the group that is trying to produce The London Merchant. Each Ithaca Shakespeare actor has created their own character in this fictional company, with a full history and personality, and during our production you'll get to see something of who these characters are.

See some mock documentary interviews with the made-up members of I.P.E.C.A.C. here.