AEMILIA LANYER - A Woman's Journey to Freedom

Screenplay 115 pages

Synopsis: London, 1596. Church bells ring for a solemn funeral train to Westminster Abbey, led Elizabeth I. Out of the crowd a woman dressed like a lady appears, her face is covered by a dark veil. She sneaks into the cathedral and is stopped and, upon stating she lived like a wife with the deceased, threatened to be thrown into the tower...  

If she will become a lady, Aemilia Lanyer asks the acclaimed astrologer Simon Forman. Nevertheless, she did enjoy noble freedom for the past 10 years when she lived with the late Lord Carey, the queen's cousin and Lord Chamberlain. At Carey's house Aemilia had met Will Shakespeare, who admired her “dark beauty,” her musicality and her conversation. But when she got pregnant with Lord Carey's son, Carey married her off to her cousin, court musician Alphonso Lanyer, who in return joined the force of the Earl of Essex. Now, as Carey is dead and Alphonso off to war, Aemilia is desperate. Forman, however, is sexually obsessed with her, which explodes when he predicts that she indeed will become a lady, but Alphonso will die. Aemilia rejects Forman's bold advances, but when she wants to leave, he stops her... Will who had recommended Forman apologizes, his friends had only praise for the astrologer and offers his comforting arms.

Aemilia moves to a new place. She leases a house to open a school for girls. And finally, after almost a year, Alphonso returns. Although in her youth Aemilia loved the only other dreamer in this family of court musicians, their relationship was never easy. Now she is glad that he is there and longingly answers his courtship. Soon Aemilia knows that she is pregnant. Alphonso pledges to stay for good. But then the Earl of Essex offers him knighthood for one last mission. Without him around Aemilia gives birth to her daughter Odillya. - She receives a note from Forman predicting death. Then she learns that Alphonso is condemned to the executioner's block for participating in Essex's ill-fated rebellion against the crown. With the help of the Countess of Cumberland, Aemilia sees the queen, risks to plead for Alphonso's life and wins it. But she loses the tender life of Odillya. Aemilia is devastated, so is Alphonso upon his return...  

At a reception Aemilia sees Will again, who introduces her to a publisher. Envious about her popularity, Forman hisses threats at her. But the Countess of Cumberland and her daughter invite her to play and teach music, to read and even write poetry, which launches an inspiring friendship. And sometimes, at dead of night, the Countess slips into Aemilia's chamber...  Meanwhile Forman starts an intrigue to defame her. Aemilia is thrown into prison where she has to watch as her fellow female prisoners are taken to the gallows. Alphonso bails her out, but the school and her reputation are lost. Alphonso has trouble to believe that Forman smeared her because she rejected him, as she claims. She cannot verbalize what happened in their last session - only sees him groaning over her in a horrible memory... Upset Alphonso leaves. Aemilia writes her book. Alphonso returns, helps her to get it published. This book and Odillya bind us forever, Aemilia cries. They embrace happily.

Reading her book on a lone boat on the river, Forman suffers a heart attack and dies.  



Screenplay Synopsis

Aemilia Lanyer  - A Woman's Journey to Freedom