Public Engagement

General Public

The Convent of Pleasure by Margaret Cavendish: A Reading

Friday, March 28, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Wollman Hall, Eugene Lang College 65 West 11th Street Room B500, New York, NY 10003

On Her Shoulders in association with New Perspectives Theatre Company and The New School for Drama presents a reading of The Convent of Pleasure by Margaret Cavendish, directed by Elyse Singer. The Play in Context, which situates the script in its historical time and place, includes a post-performance Q&A.

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.

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.

On Her Shoulders was founded in 2012 to present staged readings of plays by women from across the spectrum of time and place, with contemporary dramaturgs contextualizing--and in some cases adapting-- them for modern audiences. The program seeks to make it impossible to deny or ignore the great tradition and value of women's contribution to the theatrical canon. On Her Shoulders intends to motivate producers and directors to champion and produce these plays in New York and regionally, and to incite audiences to demand to see them.

This event is free, but RSVP is recommended by emailing

Event Type

Theater Performances


General Public


Performing Arts


School of Drama


Storytelling and Communication, Gender and Sexuality

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By Train:
The 4, 5, 6, N, R, Q and L to 14th St./Union Square.
The A, C and E to 14th St. and 8th Ave.
The 1, 2 and 3 to 14th St. and 7th Ave.
The F and M to 14th St. and 6th Ave.
PATH train to 14th St. and 6th Ave.