PLAYS & PITCHES
A Bold Stroke for a Wife
The Wonder, or A Woman Keeps a Secret
Animal magnetism | ELIZABETH INCHBALD | 1788
Cast size: 7 (5M, 2W)
This play turns on the complex schemes employed by their female characters to get what they want in a social and sexual economy which rarely ever takes their desires seriously. This comedy has great fun ridiculing masculine claims to knowledge, critiquing mansplaining avant la lettre. Animal Magnetism plays out in three short acts. Producing this play would have immediate comic appeal and would re-introduce audiences to hitherto neglected women playwrights.
Southerne's play gives us the drama of an African Prince and his beloved who have been sold into slavery in the British colony of Surinam. This play opens an opportunity for actors to explore what W.E.B. Dubois has called “double-consciousness”: how African chattel slavery and its historical legacy have endowed black people with knowledge of Eurocentric culture and values while denying their claims to social being and, ultimately, life itself.
8M, 3F (doubling possible)
Young Colonel Fainwell wants to marry Anne Lovely but there’s a problem: he needs the consent of all four of her guardians and they’re very different men. How can he possibly meet the combined approval of a stockbroker, a Quaker, an antiquarian, and an ageing fashionista? The answer: by becoming a stockbroker, a Quaker, an antiquarian, and a fashionista.
7M, 5F (doubling possible)
In this rollicking farce, Mr. Daffodill is a fop/rake blend. He pretends to sleep with many women, but in fact is carrying on with Sophia’s friend Arabella. Sophia is determined to find out how bad he is firsthand, knowing that the more jealous Tukley loves her as well. She takes on breeches to pose as a young Italian gentleman. The other members of the club play out the world of excess Daffodil inhabits, many women get to see the bad behavior exposed, and eventually, Tukley and Sophia get together.
Rosetta, anxious about marriage to someone she has never met, runs away and becomes a chambermaid in Justice Woodcock’s house. Thomas Meadows is on a similar trajectory and escapes his father to pose as a gardener in Woodcock’s household. After they fall in love, Sir William reveals that they were each other’s unknown betrothed. The narrative is suitably ludicrous but its operatic representation of English country manners sends up class and gender norms.
Violante and Don Felix are really in love, but Felix is a jealous hothead who needs to learn to trust his girlfriend. He has been in a duel because he did not want to marry according to his father’s wishes, and is now in exile, waiting to see if Antonio lives or dies from his wounds. Meanwhile, Isabella, Violante’s best friend, leaps from her window when her father locks her in, threatening to marry her off in the morning, only to fall (literally) into the arms of a rakish, handsome, Scottish Col. Briton. Violante promises to cover for her friend.
Be on the lookout for more coming soon!
Dame Edith Evans reads Lady Wishfort, Columbia Records, 1963