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VIRTUAL READING & PANEL DISCUSSION: Margaret Cavendish's "THE CONVENT OF PLEASURE"
Women's History Month starts today. We're celebrating with two events about early modern poet, playwright, and polymath MARGARET CAVENDISH.
We invite you to join us next Monday night for an interactive panel discussion about Cavendish and then on Monday, March 14, for an online reading of her closet drama THE CONVENT OF PLEASURE. Details follow.
Four experts on early modern British literature, theater and culture–Misty G. Anderson, Liza Blake, Julie Crawford, and Kristina Straub–discuss Margaret Cavendish, the 17th-century polymath and aristocrat who wrote, among many other things, the closet drama, The Convent of Pleasure.
Who was Cavendish and why did she not intend her brilliantly theatrical play for the stage? What is the relationship between the often woman-authored and performed household and court entertainments with which Cavendish was familiar, and the highly successful plays women (including Aphra Behn and Susanna Centlivre) wrote for the commercial stage in the years immediately following a period of political revolution?
How might theater makers use our understanding of Cavendish’s work to imagine new staged futures for her drama, as well as for those plays by women that appeared on stage during her lifetime?
When Lady Happy and her friends decide to ignore society’s expectations and consciously choose to avoid men and marriage, they seclude themselves inside a free-thinking and joyous community, creating a radical feminist utopia: the Convent of Pleasure. Cavendish’s 17th-century play imagines a space established by and for women to live for pleasure without men. But when a mysterious Princess comes to join the convent, a "princely brave woman truly, of a masculine presence," the paradise of the enclave shakes.
First published in 1668, The Convent of Pleasure was written as a closet drama—a play intended to be read rather than performed. In its 354-year history, there have been very few public presentations and we are delighted to provide this opportunity to hear Cavendish’s play read aloud in collaboration with R/18 Collective.
Celebrated poet and activist Aimé Césaire strikingly adapts Shakespeare's celebrated Jacobean play through a postcolonial lens.
The characters and plot are largely unchanged. Prospero conjures a violent storm to drive his enemy’s ship ashore on the island on which he is exiled with his daughter. Césaire’s island is located specifically in the Caribbean and Caliban and Ariel, depicted here as black slaves to Prospero, are centralized. Their opposing voices echo Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
Written in the tumultuous 1960s, A Tempest confronts complex intersections of race, power, and anti-imperialism with intelligence, wit, and beauty. GET COMPLETE DETAILS