"Fatal Friendship" (1698)
Time & Location
About the Event
Directed by Melody Brooks; Dramaturgy by Lynn Marie Macy Friday, November 8, 2019, 7:00pm New Perspectives Studio 458 West 37th Street @10th Avenue
Doors open at 6:45pm for a 7:00pm start with The Play in Context Introduction, which situates the script in its historical time and place, followed by the reading and a post-performance Q&A with refreshments.
Admission is by Donation ($10 suggested). R.S.V.P. to OnHerShouldersReservations@gmail.com.
CATHERINE TROTTER (1689-1749), was a precocious and largely self-educated young woman, who had her first novel (The Adventures of a Young Lady, later retitled Olinda's Adventures) published anonymously in 1693, when she was only 14 years old. She became a popular playwright while still under the age of 20, starting in 1695 with Agnes de Castro, staged at the Theatre Royal and printed in the following year with a dedication to the Earl of Dorset and Middlesex. In 1698, her second tragedy and arguably best-liked play, Fatal Friendship, was performed at the then-new theatre in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields. It was afterwards printed with a dedication to the Princess of Wales and established Trotter's reputation as a dramatic writer, brought a shower of complimentary verses, and increased the number of her powerful, fashionable, and eminent friends. Early in 1701, her comedy Love at a Loss, or Most Votes Carry It, was performed at the Theatre Royal and published that May. Later in the same year, her third tragedy, The Unhappy Penitent, was performed at Drury Lane.
Fatal Friendship tells the story of Gramont, a younger son of a noble family who has fallen on hard times. Pressed to marry a young heiress, he cannot admit his secret marriage to Felicia, whom is father is also pursuing. Recent scholarship has linked Trotter's tragedies more directly with her philosophical writings, especially as they concern the moral obligations of adhering to vows and keeping promises. When Gramont is forced to make an immoral decision he perceives to be for the good of all, the consequences turn deadly and ensnare his best friend. Unlike other plays of the time, even those with strong women characters, Trotter surprisingly allows the two rivals for Gramont to voice clear and urgent sexual desires, compounding his dilemma.
The Play in Context, the dramaturgical and scholarly presentation component to the program, is sponsored in part by the League of Professional Theatre Women, a non-profit organization promoting visibility and increasing opportunities for women in theatre since 1982.