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Sat, May 22


NewPerspectivesTC YouTube Channel

ON HER SHOULDERS: The Necessity of Divorce (1790) by Olympe de Gouges

Written in 1790, THE NECESSITY OF DIVORCE offered a radical vision of marriage as an equal partnership, delivered with playful humor & wit!

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ON HER SHOULDERS: The Necessity of Divorce (1790) by Olympe de Gouges
ON HER SHOULDERS: The Necessity of Divorce (1790) by Olympe de Gouges

Time & Location

May 22, 2021, 2:00 PM – May 26, 2021, 11:55 PM

NewPerspectivesTC YouTube Channel

About the event

New Perspectives Theatre Company presents the next reading in our ON HER SHOULDERS program, introducing women playwrights from the past to contemporary audiences.


by Olympe de Gouges, translated by Clarissa Palmer; directed by Lynn Marie Macy, dramaturgy by Melody Brooks

Saturday, May 22, 2:00pm EST (U.S.) through Wednesday, May 26, 2021

with: Noah Anderson*, Bill Blechingberg*, Janelle Clayton, Archa Joshi, C. Amanda Maud*, Bess Miller, Arisael Rivera*, Leajato Robinson*


All registrants will receive a bio of de Gouges; donors will receive the Play In Context essay, which situates the script in it's original time and place.

Olympe de Gouges was a French contemporary of Susanna Rowson, ON HER SHOULDERS' last featured playwright. De Gouges was an equally ardent feminist and abolitionist who is today best remembered for writing the "Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen". She maintained a very public political voice from 1788 through her writing, first of pamphlets and then of plays. De Gouges was executed in 1793 during the Reign of Terror for treason against the French Revolution, convicted in part by an unfinished play manuscript found among her papers.

"A woman has the right to mount the scaffold. She must possess equally the right to mount the speaker's platform."

Written in 1790, The Necessity of Divorce is a comedy in which an incorrigibly roving husband realizes how much he loves his wife when he learns that divorce will soon be legal. The need for divorce had been promoted throughout the Enlightenment period of the 18th Century, but it was an especially hot topic in newly Revolutionary France. Those who advocated for divorce saw themselves as a "physicians of marriage"; divorce could heal an ailing institution. De Gouges' script precedes the enactment of progressive divorce laws by two years, and it conveys her own feelings about marriage. After the death of her much older husband, whom she had been forced to marry, she remained single and independent for the rest of her life, even though she had a long-term romantic relationship. Considered her best play, The Necessity of Divorce was nonetheless never produced in her lifetime.

"Marriage is the Tomb of Trust and Love"

ON HER SHOULDERS was founded in May 2013 to present rehearsed, staged readings of plays by women from across the spectrum of time, with contemporary dramaturgs contextualizing them for modern audiences. To date, the program has presented 60 plays by 47 writers, from the years ca. 955 to 1970. The Play in Context, the dramaturgical and scholarly presentation component for all of the readings, is sponsored in part by the League of Professional Theatre Women.

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