It’s True, It’s True, It’s True – Artemisia Gentileschi play comes to screens

Watch online from 31 March

This acclaimed courtroom drama is based on the case of the rape of Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi in 1612.

Breach theatre’s award winning production It’s True, It’s True, It’s True was shown on BBC Four on Sunday 9th February at 11pm and was also available to watch on the BBC iPlayer.

The production is based on transcripts taken from the 1612 trial of Agostino Tassi, who was accused of raping fellow painter Artemisia Gentileschi while he was tutoring her at her father’s house. This new film version, shot on location in a former chapel, was specially staged for TV and directed by Billy Barrett and Rhodri Huw. The film is produced by Artemisia Films and Breach and was commissioned by The Space for the BBC as part of the ‘Shock of the Nude’ season.

The story centres on an unwelcome visit from Tassi to Artemisia’s home while her father is away. What happens next is disputed. In court, the accused man’s strategies – questioning the victim’s morality, rubbishing the evidence and nobbling the witnesses – mirror the smokescreen tactics of sexual abusers today.

Sticking closely to the original research but using modern language and featuring an all-female cast, It’s True, It’s True, It’s True tells what, at first, seems like a tale of female empowerment in the face of ostracization by a male-dominated society. But as the trial progresses and testimonies of situations all-too familiar to a twenty-first century audience begin to emerge, we’re left asking how much has really changed in the past 400 years?

It’s True, It’s True, It’s True: Artemisia Gentileschi on Trial – Image: The Other Richard

Originally commissioned by New Diorama Theatre, the show was one of the undisputed hits of the 2018 and 2019 Edinburgh Festivals – at the vanguard of the cultural aftershock of the #MeToo movement which rippled strongly throughout.

It’s True, It’s True, It’s True was due to be performed at Barbican from 31 March – 9 April and scheduled to be screened for a limited time at the National Gallery, part of the Artemisia Exhibition – the first major exhibition of Artemisia’s work in the UK – on Friday 24th April

Filled with rage, shot through with satire and including re-enactments of Gentileschi’s celebrated biblical paintings, this critically acclaimed play shines a spotlight on a remarkable woman who went on to become one of the most successful painters of her generation.

About this artist

Breach is a multimedia performance company founded by Dorothy Allen-Pickard, Billy Barrett and Ellice Stevens, and produced by Ellie Claughton. They collaborate with actors to create politically engaged, formally exploratory shows that blend drama and documentary. Based in London, the company tours to theatres and festivals around the UK.