The Execution of Miss Stefanini

Written by Jacquie Penrose

Friday 3rd May, Tuesday 7th May and Thursday 9th May 1985

Directed by Jacquie Penrose

A Bench Fringe Theatre Production staged (free of charge) after 'Accidental Death of an Anarchist' on three nights of that play's run, alternating with 'Lunch Girls'. Janet Simpson gives a very moving portrayal of a poor simple woman whose blameless life is ended by political violence.

AuthorJacquie Penrose

Jacquie Penrose (b 1950)

Jacquie Penrose is a writer and playwright and (with Bench Theatre) an amateur actor and director. She started writing in the 1980s and to date has written 14 plays, plus some novels and shorter works. At least 7 of her plays have been performed by Bench Theatre: 'Cross Your Heart', 'A Perfect Gentle Knight', 'Time and Tide' (trilogy), 'Renaissance', 'And God Created Michelangelo', 'Dreams of a Hero', 'The Party Guest'. She has also had a number of pieces performed as rehearsed readings by professional (Equity) actors in London, and she wrote and devised 'All About Us' a community play commissioned by Havant Borough Council (about the borough and its inhabitants) in 1990.

Jacquie has been awarded a substantial Arts Council Bursary for her writing, and in 2010, was awarded Best Director, and Best Original Play at the Totton round of the All-England Theatre Festival for 'The Party Guest'. Among several acting roles, she played Olga in Chekhov's 'Three Sisters' for which she received an excellent review however, she usually prefers to be more involved backstage. Since she joined Bench Theatre in 1976 she has directed countless productions, the first of which was 'Private Lives' in 1978. She remembers most fondly, her work with the lighting design for the production of Ibsen's 'Ghosts' (a play she also directed) in 1991. Jacquie also spent several years as Editor of the Bench newsletter, 'Bench Press'; at least 5 years working on the Bench Executive Committee and 3 years as Committee Chair. She currently lives in Havant with her husband David.

PlayThe Execution of Miss Stefanini

'The Execution of Miss Stefanini' was written in 1985 and inspired by a dry newspaper report giving verbatim extracts from Germana Stefanini's trial at the hands of terrorists.

It is the story of a humble prison worker who is lonely, frightened and uncomprehending while she is detained by Italian terrorists and is accused of being an agent of state oppression. It is based on real events that took place in that year and shows how women can get caught up in political forces and cannot cope because the forces are mightier than them. Even in a prosperous Western democracy, innocence and ignorance are no protection against persecution and terrorism. Miss Stefanini is the victim of political circumstances quite beyond her understanding or control and struggles to work out how someone as poor and innocent as herself could be guilty of being an "agent of state oppression".

This play was produced again in 1987, when Jane Hemsley-Brown reprised the role in a Bench touring production at Portsmouth Drama Centre as part of the 'Time and Tide' trilogy.

The Bench Production

The Execution of Miss Stefanini poster image

This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977. It was produced as part of 'Bench Fringe Theatre' - a free occasional performance of shorter or experimental works introduced by Bench Theatre at this time, to follow their regular staged productions. On 3 evenings, it followed the performance of 'Accidental Death of an Anarchist'.


Miss StefaniniJanet Simpson


Director Jacquie Penrose