Carnegie Mellon University

A Feminist Utopia of the Senses?

CAS Speakers Series

An open conversation with Misty G. Anderson and Kim Weild on Margaret Cavendish’s The Convent of Pleasure

Moderator: Wendy Arons


Cavendish’s 17th-century play, The Convent of Pleasure, imagines a space established by the rich and powerful Lady Happy where unmarried and widowed women can live for pleasure without men. Enter the Princess, a “Princely brave Woman truly, of a Masculine Presence” who asks to cross-dress in the role of Lady Happy’s lover, and gender fluidity enters the scene of same-sex pleasures. 

Red Bull Theater is collaborating with CAS and the R/18 Collective in an online reading to be performed in Spring of 2022.  In preparation, CAS invites early modern theater scholars and theater makers—and anyone interested in performances of gender fluidity—into an open conversation with the dramaturg and director of Red Bull’s Spring performance. 

This event will include early scene work, performed live from the performance.

December 8, 2021
4:30-6:00 p.m.

watch a recording of this event on youtube

About the Play

Margaret Cavendish was maid of honor to Queen Henrietta Maria of England, whose husband, Charles I, was deposed and executed in 1649. Cavendish followed her queen into exile in France, but returned to England after the Restoration of the monarchy.   She took an active role in contemporary scientific and philosophical debates, even attending a meeting of the famous (and all-male) Royal Society. She wrote prolifically across several genres: poetry, letters, and science fiction, as well as closet dramas that were not meant for the commercial theater.  Until now.

About the People

misty-anderson-min.jpegMisty G. Anderson is Professor of English, the James R. Cox Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, and holds courtesy appointments as an Adjunct Professor in both the Theatre and Religious Studies departments at the University of Tennessee. Anderson is the author of Imagining Methodism in Eighteenth-Century Britain: Enthusiasm, Belief, and the Borders of the Self (Johns Hopkins, 2012) and Female Playwrights and Eighteenth-Century Comedy: Negotiating Marriage on the London Stage (Palgrave, 2002). She a co-editor of the two-volume Routledge Anthology of Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Drama (2017), and Routledge Anthology of Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Performance (2019).

 wendy-arons-min.jpegWendy Arons is Professor and Option Coordinator for Dramaturgy at Carnegie Mellon.  Her research interests include performance and ecology, 18th- and 19th-century theatre history, feminist theatre, and performance and ethnography. She is author of Performance and Femininity in Eighteenth-Century German Woman’s Writing: The Impossible Act (Palgrave Macmillan 2006), and co-editor, with Theresa J. May, of Readings in Performance and Ecology (Palgrave Macmillan 2012). She has published articles in Theatre Survey, Theatre Topics, The German Quarterly, Communications from the International Brecht Society, 1650-1850, Text and Presentation, and Theatre Journal, as well as chapters in a number of anthologies.

She has worked as a professional dramaturg with a number of leading directors, including Anne Bogart and Robert Falls, and has translated a number of plays from German into English, including The Good Person of Sezuan in collaboration with Tony Kushner. Arons received a three-year NEH “Scholarly Editions and Translations” grant to support the first complete and annotated translation into English of G.E. Lessing’s Hamburg Dramaturgy, a set of 104 essays on the theater written during the brief life of the Hamburg National Theater (1767-69).   In her spare time, she authors a blog on local theatre and culture, The Pittsburgh Tatler.

kim-weild-min.pngKim Weild is associate professor and the option coordinator of The John Wells Directing Program at Carnegie Mellon where she oversees the graduate and undergraduate directing programs. She is the recipient of a Drama Desk Award nomination for Unique Theatrical Experience (Fêtes de la Nuit), the NY Innovative Theatre Foundation’s award for Outstanding Performance Art Production (Soot and Spit) and eight additional NY Innovative Theatre Award nominations (winning three).  She is the director of American Moor, (Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Solo Performance, two IRNE awards including Outstanding Visiting Production, AUDELCO award) which will be presented at Pittsburgh Playhouse February 16-20, 2022. It was the opening event at Shakespeare's Globe London, inaugural festival on Shakespeare and Race, and premiered Off-Broadway in the fall of 2019 at the Cherry Lane Theater.

Her work has been seen at: Lincoln Center Theater, Carnegie Hall, Teatro alla Scala, Shakespeare’s Globe London, The New York Theater Workshop, Cherry Lane Theatre, Beckett Theater, ArtsEmerson, Goodspeed Musicals, Pittsburgh City Theatre, Primary Stages, New York Live Arts, The Mark Taper Forum, Williamstown Theater Festival, City Theatre Company, Karamu House, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, The Beall Center for Art and Technology, The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, The New Ohio Theater (NYC) and Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center. Her production of Uncle Vanya was an official selection at the Prague Quadrennial and in Greece she has directed The Bacchae as well as The Birds for OneYearLease Theater.