Now We Are Pope: Frederick Rolfe in Venice
by Martin Foreman
"I have many enemies, but what I need, Zildo, is a Friend.
The Divine Friend. The Friend whose beauty
shines from body and soul."
The writer Frederick Rolfe ("Baron Corvo") was born in London in 1860 and died in Venice in 1913. A complex,
cantankerous and contradictory character, Rolfe destroyed friendships with the same intensity he sought to
make them. A convert to Catholicism, his greatest ambition was to be a priest, but inability to get on with
fellow students, unwillingness to conform and growing debts led to him twice being expelled from seminary.
An intensely proud man, Rolfe rejected all charity while living off loans that were seldom repaid. Strongly
attracted to handsome young men, he swore celibacy for most of his adult life. A talented author who described
writing as a loathsome occupation, his works today are mostly out of print - except for Hadrian The
Seventh, in which a man long denied the priesthood is suddenly elected Pope . . .
Martin Foreman's one-man play depicts Rolfe in Venice on the last day of his life, pottering around his
room, occasionally addressing his companion-servant, whose presence is felt but never seen. As he looks back on
his life, his thoughts both spiritual and carnal, his memories caustic and unforgiving, Rolfe's mind teeters into the fantasy that he is indeed Pope.
A powerful and sympathetic portrayal of a talented, troubled individual. Includes a short biography of Rolfe and detailed text notes.
"eloquent and insightful . . . wonderfully believable" Everything Theatre
soft cover, 45pp
(app 45 mins on stage)
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Rolfe at the Scots College
in Rome, ca 1890