Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Short Biography

Rebecca Lenkiewicz is a British playwright and screenwriter. In 2008 her play, Her Naked Skin, was the first play written by a living female playwright to be performed on the Olivier Stage of the Royal National Theatre. Born in 1968, she grew up in 1980’s and 1990’s Britain. She graduated from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 1999, going onto be an actor for both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre. She has since gone on to write for stage, screen and radio.

As a playwright her work is dominated by the exploration of strong characters rather than narrative. In particular, illuminating the lives of marginalised women. Several of her plays take on theme head on. Her plays The Night Season, Shoreditch Madonna, Her Naked Skin and The Painter all tackle the emancipation (or lack of it) of suspended females. She cites her mother as an early influence on her. In an interview with The Guardian newspaper described her mother as a Lioness, giving her and her four other siblings independence from an early age.

Her plays collection Plays 1 is available from Amazon and contains the plays The Night Season, Shoreditch Madonna, Her Naked Skin and The Painter.

The Night Season and Her Naked Skin

All four are great plays, but there are two that are really engaging for student actors. The Night Season and Her Naked Skin.

The Night Season is a masterful play which demonstrates her fantastic ability to create truly believable, fascinating and engaging characters. The play focuses on three sisters who, along with their alcoholic father and dotty grandmother, looking, indeed longing, for some much-needed change.

Her Naked Skin is set during the British suffragette movement before the beginning of World War One. It is centred on the love affair between an upper-class character, Lady Celia Cain and a working-class character Eve Douglas.  

The combination of challenging content and explosive characters are ideal for students. Students need to do both research into the contexts and the content surrounding the plays, offering them plenty of opportunities to get fired up and into role. The characters are equally challenging. The Night Season has a cast of seven whose ages range from twenties to seventies (Lenkiewicz doesn’t give exact ages). Her Naked Skin has several central characters and many other roles that can offer opportunities for multi-rolling.

Although both plays would be difficult to put on as a whole play in a school or college setting, there are some magnificent monologues and duologues. The writing, especially the characterisation, is just delicious and the tense family relationships are brilliant to explore and perform. Likewise, the scenes are short so there are plenty of opportunities to present extracts without huge amounts of editing.

Here is a collection of videos I have curated on YouTube on Rebecca Lenkiewicz: