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Le Couvent ou les Voeux forcés. Olympe de Gouges. Theatre perceived as a genre reserved for men, very few female playwrights Improper for a respectable woman to have anything to do with a theatre company Actors seen as having dubious morals. Olympe de Gouges. 1748 – 1793

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Theatre perceived as a genre reserved for men, very few female playwrights

  • Improper for a respectable woman to have anything to do with a theatre company
  • Actors seen as having dubious morals
olympe de gouges
Olympe de Gouges
  • 1748 – 1793
  • 1786: starts her career as a playwright. She will write about 15 plays
  • Slavery
  • Forced marriage
  • Divorce
  • Political events
  • 1791: Discours des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne
  • 1793: the only woman tried and guillotined for her writing during the Terror
projet d un second th tre et d une maternit 1789
Projet d’un second théâtre et d’une maternité, 1789

‘Dans tous [les théâtres], on trouve ce qui peut flatter et entretenir les vices. Ces horribles tréteaux ont fait la perte du peuple. On voit un ouvrier se priver de pain, abandonner son travail, sa femme et ses enfants, pour courir chez Nicolet, Audinot, aux Beaujolais, aux Délassements Comiques et tant d’autres qui obèrent le peuple, qui dépravent les moeurs et qui nuisent à l’Etat.’

projet d un second th tre et d une maternit 17891
Projet d’un second théâtre et d’une maternité, 1789

‘… si une bonne religion a été toujours le fondement inébranlable du salut des Etats et des peuples, un théâtre moral, dont les actrices seraient irréprochables, conviendrait à la société des hommes policés, exciterait les vertus, corrigerait les libertins, et, à peine dix ans se seraient écoulés, que l’on reconnaitrait que la bonne comédie est véritablement l’école du monde.’

3 phases
3 phases
  • 1789-1791: revolutionary ideology appearing more and more on stage
  • 1791-1793: decree of 13th January 1791 from 10 to 35 theatres, debate over repertoire and censorship
  • After 9 Thermidor: less inflamed theatre, trying to refocus on literary quality rather than on political interpretations
theatre for national regeneration
Theatre for national regeneration
  • Potential for propaganda
  • ‘régénérationcivique’, ‘écoleprimaire pour adultes’
  • From the ComédieFrançaise to the Théâtre de la Nation
  • Actors as citizens
the play
The play
  • Very successful with 80 performances
  • Controversial and politically explicit theme: written while the Assembly was debating on religious maters
  • 13 February 1790: abolition of religious orders
  • Church as taboo subject for plays in Ancien Régime
  • Church costumes and ceremonies banned from stage until 1790
  • Drame bourgeois upholds patriarchal model. What happens when a woman writes her own drama?
  • De Gouges does not comply with the expected characterisation
  • Heroine more active, female solidarity, patriarchal oppression as cause of unhappiness
  • Intervention of the law in the play
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