, ,

Yasmin Arshad (producer) and Emma Whipday (director) are doctoral candidates in the Department of English at University College London.


My thesis looks at the representation of Cleopatra in the plays written before, by, and after Shakespeare, and explores how the Egyptian Queen’s image was used in different circumstances in the early modern period and beyond.

During my research, I came across a fascinating portrait by an unknown artist, of an early seventeenth-century English aristocratic woman depicted as Cleopatra, which had been misidentified. I was able to identify the portrait’s inscription as coming from Samuel Daniel’s 1607 edition of The Tragedie of Cleopatra (first published in 1594) and its sitter as plausibly being Lady Anne Clifford. Might the painting be a record of a performance of an early modern closet drama staged in an elite private setting? This production is grounded in my research on the portrait and tests the performability of Daniel’s tragedy.

My research interests include Renaissance literature, early women’s writing, Renaissance portraiture, and global Shakespeare. I am also a guest contributor on bloggingshakespeare.com.

Publications include: ‘The Enigma of a Portrait: Lady Anne Clifford and Daniel’s Cleopatra’ in The British Art Journal, and ‘Aemelia Lanyer and Shakespeare’s Helena’ in Opticon 1826.

Work in progress includes: A chapter for a collection on Shakespeare in the Indian Subcontinent (under review), and a journal article co-written with Dr Chris Laoutaris (UCL) ‘“Still renewing wronges”: The Persian Lady Revealed’, which identifies the enigmatic female subject of Marcus Gheeraert’s ‘The Persian Lady’.


My thesis reads three of Shakespeare’s tragedies – HamletOthello and Macbeth – in light of the genre of domestic tragedy. In so doing, it examines portrayals of the home in early modern popular literature, and explores the impact of these representations upon both domestic tragedy and early modern culture as a whole.

My research interests include early modern drama, Shakespeare, street literature and theatre history. I am currently writing a chapter for a collection on early modern news culture. I recently directed a production of Macbeth with a cast and crew of international postgraduate students, at Goodenough College.

I am very excited to be directing Daniel’s The Tragedie of Cleopatra; my thesis is concerned with staging the home in the early modern theatre, so this is a fascinating opportunity to explore the creation of theatre in the early modern home.

Please do check back soon for more information on the project itself.

This blog will chart our journey as we prepare for this production and will record our decisions, insights, anxieties and explorations along the way.