A Performance History of Plays Written By Early Modern Women (Lumley – Behn)

While plays written by women are now part of the scholarly canon, the irregular performances or readings that do take place are mainly private events in academic environments. Gathering information on these ‘irregular’ performances requires intensive searching that often produces inadequate data because there is an acute lack of stage and performance history of the plays written by early women dramatists. From the small amount of material we have there can be no doubt that plays by early women dramatists are performable in both private and public spaces, but there can be no tradition of performance, no chance of building upon earlier productions, if no stage history exists. Just as the plays themselves became lost or muted after their composition, so the lack of scholarly projects based on the performance history of early women’s dramatic writing prevents the development of a repository of previous production experience and, as such, hinders future stagings. If we cannot prove that these plays were performable, how can we ensure that in the future they will be performed?

This summer I will begin a three-year project that aims to gather information about the performance of Early Modern women’s plays. If you have any information I would be really grateful to have:

Any paper materials or recordings about past, present or future productions
If you are planning a production, could you let me know with the possibility of filming it?
If you have published anything that might be relevant – and this includes performance possibilities from the time of the play’s composition to today – can you give me link ?
If you have worked on, acted in or been a spectator of any performance would you be prepared to be interviewed about your experience?

Thank you for your help and I very much look forward to hearing from you

Marion Wynne-Davies