Marianne: A Symbol of Freedom and Liberty
“Liberté, égalité, fraternité, SORORITÉ… a country saved by its women!”. The Revolutionists at Town Hall Theatre (Sep 27-Oct 20, 2018) is a brutal comedic quartet about four very real women who lived boldly in France during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror (1793-1794). Audiences will experience the hysterical yet factual journey of these women during a time when, as playwright Lauren Gunderson states, “anything done or said against the Republic is treason and treason is punished by death.”
Since HIS-tory neglected to write down some of our characters, Town Hall Theatre will feature each of them in our blog series, telling HER-stroy.
And if you destroy them [pamphlets and plays] you destroy Charlotte and Marie and me. You destroy me. Because no one writes me down. But I thought you were. Sisterhood of heros, Bullshit ~Marianne Angelle in The Revolutionists
Marianne Angelle is a composite figure, based on revolutionaries in Saint Domingue, which is the nation we now call Haiti. In 1791 it was a sugar, coffee and cotton producing French colony. There were 500,000 enslaved people, 32,000 white, and 28,000 free blacks. The colony provided great wealth to France. When the Revolution broke out in 1789, little was done to extend the Declaration of the Rights of Man to slaves in the French colonies. The enslaved people of Saint Dominge rose up in August 1791 and started what was the first successful slave revolt in history.
In The Revolutionists, Marianne Angelle is a free woman who appears early in the show. On her dramaturgy blog, Playwright Gunderson describes this character, “Marianne is fueled by both family and justice. The stakes for her are personal (her husband, kids) as well as political (the slavery in her country). She does not have time to save the souls of these white women and is rather shocked when Marie is the one to most fully acknowledge her pain. She is a working mom: half in the worry of her heart, and half in the work for justice that only she can do. She truly loves her husband and his loss is a knife to the gut. But he was a feminist activist too, and she uses his love to enhance her power to keep the fight going.”
Marianne Angelle is also a composite figure of La Marianne, the French symbol of freedom, Liberte of the French Republic, whose first appearance was on a medal showing the storming of the Bastille. The symbol was chosen to represent the 1st French Republic, and in 1793 the more conservative figure in a classical gown is replaced by the more violent bare-breasted fierce-looking woman. She is a goddess, she is a badass. She is woman…leading a revolt.