One of the most important actresses of her time, Cushman was famous for her interpretation of the leading MALE roles in Shakespeare. Cushman continually challenged Victorian notions of gender in her stage portrayals of male characters and of strong, androgynous female characters. Cushman also played the man in every area of her life. She gathered around her an incredible circle of emancipated nineteenth-century women: painters, poets, sculptors and literary women, many of whom she financially supported. She had intense love affairs with several of them.
Fondakowski's project is based on the collection in the Library of Congress of over 1,000 unpublished letters, written by Cushman to Emma Crow, the transcription of which has been a ten-year labor of love by scholar Lisa Merrill. Many of Cushman's letters to Crow include the directive: "burn this letter," but they were not burned. Preserved, they chronicle a passionate Victorian-era lesbian love story before such love was thought to exist.
Featuring NATHAN CHRISTOPHER • ANNIE ENNEKING • LEIGHA HORTON • CHARITY JONES • EMILY KING • GREG PIEROTTI • KELLI SIMPKINS • SIGRID SUTTER • REGINA MARIE WILLIAMS
Casa Cushman is being developed in partnership with Tectonic Theatre Project, with support from the University of Minnesota's Imagine Fund, Institute for Advanced Study, and Department of Theatre Arts & Dance.
Free, but reservations recommended. To reserve seats please call 612-624-9183. For more details, please visit The Playwrights' Center Events Calendar.
Yep - that’s this Friday at 7 pm, and this Saturday at 3 pm. It will be a staged reading with provocative choreography by Black Label Movement’s Carl Flink, gorgeous costumes, and lovely stage pictures developed by the ensemble and Tectonic Theater Project company members.
In addition to general ensemble work, I portray the firey Matilda ‘Max’ Hays - Charlotte Cushman’s first longterm lover and spouse. The Max who, in my rehearsing hands, is terribly clumsy. And unfortunately that’s not a character choice. It’s a problem. A funny problem, but a problem nonetheless.
In general, I think of myself as relatively graceful. But once you put me in a corset and very large hoopskirt, add a mirrored room, a choreographer, and some dancers, I become terribly, terribly clumsy. I’ve knocked things over. I’ve fallen over. I’ve fallen over things I’ve knocked over.
One afternoon found me attempting a choreographed move where I sit on a bench, lay my head into Charlotte’s lap, then widely swing my legs over the back of the bench (intentionally baring bloomers and all), before standing and continuing off in the opposite direction. Sounds simple enough, right? I mean, hell, I practice yoga - I can balance! And it was simple, in theory, until I misjudged the distance between my rear and her lap (compounded by the wonky physics of a hoopskirt in motion) got off balance, and ended up doing a face-plant onto the floor in front of her. And of course it had to be in slow-motion. Hilarious? Mortifying? YES! Yes, it was all that AND MORE!
Another rehearsal brought minor destruction. I was entering closely behind Charlotte: step, step, step, step, RIIIIIP. We freeze with huge eyes. I let out a tiny “sorry!” and hang my head in bewildered shame. I had stepped on the lead’s hoop skirt and given it a very new, very large hole. What the hell?!
I’ve taken to lamenting in my deepest, most pathetic register, “Clumsy Max is sorry.” I don’t know that it helps any, but it certainly makes me feel a little better. Laughing at myself is a sweet, sweet salve.