The Moot Virginity of Catherine of Aragon

Produced by The Belfast Ensemble


9:15pm – 10:05pm | Thursday 27 July 2017

Robin Howard Dance Theatre, The Place, 17 Duke’s Rd, London, WC1H 9PY




This work was first created when the EU referendum was just a ‘promise’. In Northern Ireland we felt a possible split could have far reaching consequences for us – most importantly, the border and the peace process. It sparked a parallel: the Reformation – another split that echoes in the streets of Belfast to this day. What we’ve created is a spoken song-cycle comprised of 15 short poems or ‘songs’. The Belfast Ensemble’s mission is to investigate the form of music-theatre, so here the ‘songs’ are not sung, they are recited. Why not? As an ensemble, we wanted to get in a room with just the character and the actor. We spent a few weeks playing with events and Catherine’s past – loose text ideas. What was exciting to us was that the score, the text came after. The actor, the actor’s emotional highs and lows, her instinctive reaction to key events, THESE dictated the need – or not – for composition. The ‘opera’ here is the form – the composer being lead by the key dramatic investigator: the actor’s heart.


(VERSE LIST: 1. A Pendulum, 2. All Mother’s, 3. A Candle, 4. All Arthur’s, 5. A Cup, 6. We Swap, 7. Royal Blood, 8. The Sweating Sickness, 9. One Flesh, 10. Arthur’s Heart, 11. Rubies for m’lady Anne, 12. A Virgin, Still, 13. Unfit, 14. Catherine’s Dream, 15. A Call to Prayer)


The Belfast Ensemble is an emerging collective of internationally established, award-winning Belfast-based artists. Our vision is the founding of a permanent music-theatre ensemble – world-class theatre and music makers in the city of Belfast – a legacy and a living wage.

We are Made in Belfast | Brought Beyond: Engaging with the wider European contemporary music / theatre / design scenes through festival touring, commissioning and drawing upon current trends in writing and performance. The Belfast Ensemble will have no ‘home’: the city is our stage. Our vision: World class excellence.


Originally commissioned by Spark Opera and produced by the Belfast Ensemble, 2016. This work is made possible through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council and the British Council 




The Moot Virginity of Catherine of Aragon

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Also on Thursday 27 July 2017…


7:00pm – 7:35pm : The Woman Who Refused to Dance

7:55pm – 8:55pm : Deeply

Listen Now: Road Memoir: The Podcast Opera


(a verse cycle for actor and ensemble)

The Belfast Ensemble


Music and Words: Conor Mitchell

Performed by: Abigail McGibbon

Lighting Design: Simon Bird

Director and Design: Conor Mitchell

Assistant Director: Matthew Cavan





Conor Mitchell is a composer and musical-dramatist from Northern Ireland. He is the recipient of the 2016, Arts Council Northern Ireland Major Individual Artist’s Award and is currently working on his body of symphonic and music-theatre work.


Simon Bird is a graduate of RADA. He has worked for many theatre companies throughout Ireland and is currently Technical Manager of the Mac Theatre Belfast. Recent designs include Hope Hunt Into Lazarus (Oona Doherty Dance), Love or Money (C21) and Group (Belfast Ensemble). He is an associate technical artist of the Belfast Ensemble


Abigail McGibbon trained at the Gaiety School of Acting, Dublin. Her most recent theatre credits include St Joan (Lyric Theatre Belfast), Everything Between Us (Rough Magic, Dublin), Can’t Forget about you (Tron, Glasgow). She is an associate artist of the Belfast Ensemble. Awards: Irish Times Theatre Award Best Supporting Actress 2015