Pictured is The Satyr’s mask, worn originally to protect the actor’s identity in Henry Stagworth’s most controversial play. Henry Stagworth (1550-83), a famed pureblood playwright in his day with several of his works still performed, is most known for his controversial tragedy Being, Beast. Taking place in what was then modern day Scotland, it tells the tale of a pureblood witch who falls in love with a satyr. Realizing quickly that satyrs were not ravenous animals that her society portrayed, she slowly begins a descent into a pariah in ballroom scenes and elaborate feasts where she becomes increasingly aware of the hypocrisy of noble purebloods and their practices before the abrupt end in which she is caught consummating a wild marriage with her lover and subsequently put to death. Stagworth purposely left the entirety of the cast unnamed in a ploy to not allude to any pureblood families but also to force purebloods to subconsciously put themselves into the actors’ place and see how they were no better than the satyr in their oft-detestable actions and words.
Many critics then and now theorize that Being, Beast was and is a political statement, a grand allegory for the treatment of Muggles as animals and filth and the immediate outcast for those who fraternize with non-magical society. Some historians believe that the play was a confession, for Stagworth was a known blood traitor and had subtly advocated for the protection of Muggles. He would not live to see the establishment of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy in 1692.
Even today, many of the more conservative-leaning witches and wizards are against Stagworth’s play being performed, often protesting against the theatre that announces they will be hosting it. In Hogwarts it is locked in the Restricted Section of its library and students are only allowed to read it with the express permission of a teacher. As such, even if its fame is comparable to the wizarding adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it is not often talked about for fear of trodding on toes.
Alongside its noted support of Muggle/Wizard relationships, it has distinct homoerotic subtext between two of the unnamed purebloods, and a scene with the main witch and her mother showcase how adultery was better received than the intermixing of the wizarding world with Muggles. However, none of these are openly attacks on pureblood culture at the time, which gave Stagworth much needed protection: If he was accused, the accusers would be revealed to be no better than his characters. This did not prevent him from becoming a pariah, however, and at his death he was buried in an unmarked grave in an unknown location.
In his short lifetime, the playwright wrote several pieces alongside Being, Beast, and a number of short stories. None were as controversial as the work for which he is known for. He left no descendants, and the Stagworth family line died with him.
Mr. W. Muir, 21st of September, 2014