The Illustrious Adventuresses
In the seventeenth century, the Mancini sisters broke all sexual and culturally established taboos by abandoning their aristocratic husbands and travelling unchaperoned throughout Europe. When they were apart, the sisters wrote letters to one another that documented their journeys. Even more shockingly, they wrote and published their memoirs; “to defend ourselves against calumny” as Hortense writes in her opening paragraph.
We intend to re-frame the historical narrative of the Mancini sisters’ journey as a poetic, evocative, and thought-provoking piece of devised theatre. Our approach combines traditional and contemporary theatre-making processes to develop an original piece of theatre that investigates trans-cultural themes of feminism in early modern Europe.
A dramatic rendering of the Mancini sisters must reflect an accurate historical awareness of seventeenth century European culture within the radical economy of writing for contemporary performance. The interplay between these women’s extraordinary biographies and the historical moment that sought to make it impossible for women to pursue such autonomy in their lives manifests the larger socio/intellectual context of our work and the place of these two early pioneers in the story of women’s emancipation.
In our presentation, we wish to address the challenges of collaboration in devising trans-global theatre. In the devising process, research is normally sifted and tested during the face-to-face practical, collaborative phase of theatre making, and these discoveries are then distilled into the performance ‘text’. Because the two devisers live and work on opposite sides of the globe, we must rely on social media, email, and skype to develop much of the work. And yet, this seems strangely appropriate to our project since the Mancini sisters employed the written word to engage one another and their audience, refusing to keep quiet three hundred and fifty years ago, when the ‘other voice’ was typically silenced.
Bergeron, J. M., & Quinn, C. A. (2011). The Illustrious Adventuresses. Paper presented at the Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies Conference. Monash University, VIC, 28 June–1 July 2011.