WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY: LEIGH FONDAKOWSKI
DRAMATURGY BY: SARAH LAMBERT & CAITLIN A. KANE
One of the most important actresses of her time, Charlotte 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 a circle of emancipated nineteenth-century women, many of whom she financially supported and engaged in intense love affairs.
Leigh Fondakowski's archival play, Casa Cushman, draws on over 1,000 unpublished letters held in the Library of Congress, written by Cushman to Emma Crow, the transcription of which has been a ten-year labor of love by scholar Lisa Merrill.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.
I joined the Casa Cushman team in the fall of 2017 and have worked as a dramaturg and assistant director on several workshops of the play, including at Cornell University, the Dramatists Guild, New Georges, and the Chelsea Factory.