Queen of Sad Mischance

Illustration from The Talbot Shrewsbury Book

Illustration from The Talbot Shrewsbury Book

ANOTHER MEDUSA CONNECTION?/ DANGEROUS WOMAN/ FEMME FATALE/ WAR OF THE ROSES - So excited! I’ve just been offered the opportunity to read the part of Dr. Beverly Norden, a 55 yr old feminist scholar, in the new play “Queen of Sad Mischance” by  John Minigan. The play is a finalist for the 2018 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference in Waterford CT. This will be an informal reading with the playwright at The Depot in Hampton CT.

"Queen of Sad Mischance is a play about academia, race, power and belonging. Synopsis: Intense, bi-racial college senior Kym thinks she’s lucked into the perfect resume-builder: a research assistantship helping feminist scholar Beverly Norden finish her ground-breaking book on Shakespeare’s Queen Margaret before Alzheimer’s makes the task impossible. As Kym learns that more than Beverly’s failing memory stands in the way of both the book and the carefully-planned trajectory of her own future career, she’s faced with the hardest decisions of her life.”

The play contains several archetypal relationships and thrulines, including a definite Persephone connection for the younger woman. But the foundational character for the backstory of the play is Queen Margaret of Anjou, and I’m fascinated to be collecting sources on feminist perspectives of Margaret, both in history, and in Shakespeare’s plays, to help me interpret/add depth to the part.

The character Beverly has a framed print of an illustration from The Talbot Shrewsbury Book on her office wall, and it’s an important symbol in the play.

From what I’ve read so far, I believe Margaret’s story may be another one for the Medusa collection. Do any of our brilliant feminist Seeing Red faculty/scholars have sources or opinions to share on Queen Margaret? Hope so! Here's what I've found so far -

FEMINIST SOURCES, in progress...

From The Dangerous Woman Project , Edinburgh Scotland.

Re: Margaret of Anjou

1. “This demonization of a woman who proved herself capable of leading armies and formulating policy is still rarely countered in popular culture, despite its roots being firmly set in propaganda with little relevance to historical fact. It is also a portrayal that does a complex and driven woman a disservice by reducing her to the limited ‘she-wolf’ dimensions of a stereotypical villainess.”

From  In Defense of Shakespeare’s Queen Margaret of Anjou , a Master’s thesis for Harvard University by Sarah Pagliaccio, 2016.

1. “In Margaret, Shakespeare creates a woman who is the strongest female counterpoint to the destructive men of the Henry VI plays. She is direct and decisive in both words and deeds while engaging in political intrigues; waging wars; and protecting her husband, son, and the crown from traitors. She pays a price for her actions equal to that of the men, ultimately losing the war, the crown, her husband, and her only child, while battling stereotypes of a woman’s role. This sexism saves her life in 3 Henry VI; because she is a woman, she is not executed by her enemies. Instead Shakespeare’s Margaret challenges all notions of gender, defies the banishment imposed by her enemies, and brings to an end Richard III’s reign of terror. Shakespeare rescues her from exile and anachronistically places her in Richard III so she can serve as the only character—man or woman—who is a match for Richard. In a gesture that might be seen as one of respect, at the end of the tetralogy, Shakespeare allows Margaret to choose her own anachronistic and unhistorical end.”

2. “When Margaret of Anjou is considered against the canon of Shakespeare’s female characters, she is occasionally admired, but more often reduced to a femme fatale figure or dismissed as an example of a cruel woman who is one-dimensional and dramatically insignificant to the action of the plays in which she appears.”