University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Casa Cushman – new play by Leigh Fondakowski

December 10, 2010IASEvents0


Workshop performance of Leigh Fondakowski’s new play Casa Cushman about the life and work of nineteenth-century American actress Charlotte Cushman. 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Fondakowski’s project is based on the collection in the Library of Congress of over 1,000 unpublished letters, written by Cushman to Emma Crow, the transcription of which has been a ten-year labor of love by scholar Lisa Merrill.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.


This production features artists from Tectonic Theater Project and is a joint project with the Playwrights’ Center, with the support of the Imagine Fund.

Sponsored by: Institute for Advanced Study, Northrop, Theatre Arts & Dance

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