ON HER SHOULDERS - THE READING SERIES
A Convent of Pleasure
directed by Elyse Singer
dramaturgy by Whitney Aronson
March 28, 2014 5 P.M.
Doors open at 6:30pm for a 6:45pm curtain; tickets are FREE to the public.
Wollman Hall, 65 West 11th Street
R.S.V.P to OnHerShouldersReservations@gmail.com
MARGARET CAVENDISH, Duchess of Newcastle (1623 – 1673), was a 17th Century provocateur; a poet, philosopher, writer of prose romances, essayist, and playwright, publishing under her own name at a time when most women writers published anonymously. Her writing addressed a number of topics including gender, power, etiquette, scientific method, and animal protection. Her book, The Description of a New World Called The Blazing-World, is one of the earliest examples of science fiction and she was the only seventeenth century woman to publish numerous books on natural philosophy.
In The Convent of Pleasure, Lady Happy “incloisters” herself with twenty fellow wealthy and virtuous virgins and widows to devote themselves to pleasure. They create a single female-only utopia— lavishly designed and eco-friendly-- resisting the entreaties from their male suitors and curious married sisters. Written in exile during the English civil wars, and first published in 1668, The Convent of Pleasure captures the spirit of the best romantic comedies of the Restoration era, but it also takes radical liberties with dramatic form. Cross-dressing, fantastical settings, and burlesques about traditional gender roles are front-and-center. Is this a lost feminist classic, or is the play's debate surrounding the natural law of the sexes its raison d'être? To shine light on the highly theatrical gender play within The Convent of Pleasure, Elyse Singer will direct a gender-bending cast including performers from NYC's new burlesque world.
ELYSE SINGER (Director) is the founding Artistic Director of Hourglass Group, with whom she has directed the OBIE-winning Trouble in Paradise; Mae West’s plays SEX and The Pleasure Man (with Charles Busch), Ruth Margraff’s Red Frogs at PS122, and produced the GLAAD-winning Beebo Brinker Chronicles. Her play Frequency Hopping won the International STAGE Playwriting Competition and ran at 3LD. Recent credits: Nick Hallett/Shana Moulton’s multimedia operaWhispering Pines X and Travis Stewart’s Fickle Mistress at Dixon Place. Singer is a Usual Suspect at NYTW, an alum of the LCT Directors Lab and a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women.