Posted: 12/26/11 at 11:58am
I am looking for a theater or group to stage the premiere of a new play.

I have adapted for the stage the first published work of America’s first professional novelist, Charles Brockden Brown. The work is Alcuin, published in 1798. In the words of Lee R. Edwards, Alcuin is “the first sustained and earnest argument for the rights of women to appear in this country.”

My adaptation, which I have titled EXEMPT FROM A THOUSAND TOILS, is in two acts, running approximately 90 minutes. The play is written as a hybrid staged reading, falling somewhere between “Love Letters” and “84 Charing Cross Road”.

EXEMPT FROM A THOUSAND TOILS is a wide-ranging dialog between a young schoolmaster, Alcuin, and a middle-aged widow, Mrs. Carter. Topics range from politics to education, the “proper” place for women in society, the Constitution, voting, sexual relations, a fantastical place called “the paradise of women” , and marriage. Despite being set in the year 1798, Mrs. Carter’s declaration that “…the bickering and dissentions of a married life flow from no other source than that of too frequent communication” certainly will resonate today.

Because the play is set at a fancy party in a large American city at the beginning of the “Jane Austen era”, the play has the built-in appeal of the costumes, manners, and sensibility of the many Austen adaptations but with the advantage of a female character of greater strength and contemporary significance.

What woman (or man) wouldn’t find either subversive or appealing (or both) Mrs. Carter’s question to the young schoolmaster: “Why is marriage to condemn two human beings to dwell under the same roof and to eat at the same table…?” Indeed --- Why? She answers, and defends her logic, admirably in the second act.

EXEMPT provides a fascinating insight into the gender culture of the years of the early American Republic with insights that will interest and challenge today’s audience, with several conclusions as controversial today as they were in 1798.

I am a professionally-produced and published playwright and have also adapted Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s monumental feminist novel, Aurora Leigh, as a screenplay.

For more on Charles Brockden Brown and Alcuin, please go to: http://www.brockdenbrownsociety.ucf.edu/

For more about me, please see my website at:
Raleigh Marcell raleighmarcell@gmail.com