Magna Carta

Magna Carta is an unproduced six episode television drama series. It is also a full-length play called Treason. It is also a very dense one-act play named Treason (which was shortlisted for the East Anglia New Writing Award in 2017). 
It is a story bigger than any particular form, bigger than the playwright, the subject of years and years of research and growth, tears and haunting dreams. It is always a radical retelling of the origin of the Magna Carta with King John’s bastard daughter Joan and second wife Isabella at its treasonous heart.
Both Magna Carta and Treason feature Joan, Lady of Wales, Isabella of Angouleme, Avisa of Gloucester and Matilda de Briouze. Matilda’s murder and torture caused the Magna Carta, Isabella’s faith forced the Archbishop’s hand, Joan’s love forced King John’s hand and Avisa, handily and in the background kept Joan and Isabella alive. This is an unabashedly feminist story of martyrdom, misogyny, murder, democracy, love and justice. 
It is a story of how people made justice in an unjust age.
It is the story for now. 

Zoom Pilot Table Read on 31 December 2020 as part of Murmuration, an Ecuadorian Arts Festival

Zoom Pilot Table Read on 7 January 2021 for FB group American Women in the UK


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The Magna Carta is the greatest document in the history of the world but its origin

story is virtually unknown. This series aims to remedy that. Magna Carta dramatizes the

particular crimes of King John: the closing of the forests, the starvation of Matilda de

Briouze and the slaughter of the young Welsh princes. The trauma of these abuses plays out

in the lives of the women around the King – the women who secretly scheme to stop him –

Isabella and Joan.

Joan is John’s pagan bastard daughter who loves land and rivers more than castles

and churches. Isabella is John’s second wife who loves the Christian God and believes he will

send angels to guard those who seek justice and mercy. They nurture and befriend and find

a way to make justice out of injustice.

King John’s taking of land and debt hostages enrages Robert Fitzwalter. But it takes

Isabella to turn Robert Fitzwalter’s defiance of the King into the sacred work of angels.

Llywelyn the Great defends Wales against the King’s Men’s vicious genocides. But it takes

Joan becoming Lady of Wales for Llywelyn to unite with the Barons and the church and take

the field at Runnymede. Archbishop Langton longed to remind the barons of earlier

charters. But it takes Isabella’s prodding for him to overcome his fears and stand against the


Magna Carta shows in six episodes how the British tame tyranny. The Magna Carta

happened because Joan and Isabella didn’t want John dead, only better behaved. The Great

Charter was born of daring and treason and the starved body of Matilda de Briouze. Magna

Carta sets out to remind Britain of this beating heart of its native rights – shrouded in

secrecy, born of blood, oddly courteous. It is time for this story to be told.

Reading of The Treason Play, 2017.

Francesca Reid as Joan, Lady of Wales | Image by B. Schulz-Mastroianni (BS)
With the resident medievalist, Cecilia Gaspochin and the fabulous Richard McNally | BS
Guy Masterson as Stephen Langton | BS
Rachel Mariner | BS
Sam Donnelly as Robert Fitzwalter | BS
Nora Silk as Isabella of Angouleme | BS
Deep in Act II | BS