On Her Shoulders: March 28 at 6:30PM

THE CONVENT OF PLEASURE
by Margaret Cavendish
directed by Elyse Singer
dramaturg: Melissa Conkling
assistant director: Whitney Aronson

(NY, NY) On Her Shoulders is pleased to present a FREE staged reading of The Convent of Pleasure by Margaret Cavendish, directed by Elyse Singer on Friday, March 28th; doors open at 6:30pm.The Play in Context, which situates the script in its historical time and place, kicks off the evening at 6:45pm. Running time, including a post-performance Q&A is 2.5 hours. The performance is at The New School, 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 17th century woman to publish numerous books on natural philosophy.

In The Convent of Pleasure, Lady Happy “incloisters” herself with twenty 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 War, and first published in 1668, The Convent of Pleasure captures the spirit of the best romantic comedies of the Restoration era, but 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.

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