Olympe de Gouges: Badass Activist Playwright and Feminist

Olympe de Gouges, a butcher's daughter, and self-educated, proved to be one of the most outspoken and articulate women revolutionaries. She is the protagonist of Town Hall Theatre’s season opener, The Revolutionists playing Sep 27-Oct 20, 2018.

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Olympe de Gouges was a very prolific playwright, although few of her plays were actually produced. She wrote a huge number of pamphlets and posters, fighting for equality, and was outspoken critic of the slave trade in the French colonies; she also pleaded against the death penalty; and wrote for reasonable divorce laws to protect women and children. Her writings about divorce, maternity hospitals, orphaned children, and single mothers were published as pamphlets and staged as plays.

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Olympe de Gouges moved to Paris when she was widowed and got involved in various causes that pertained to women and children.  In 1791, de Gouges wrote her most famous pamphlet, The Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Citizen in response to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Her document asserted that women have the same, inalienable rights as men. She outspokenly and directly challenged the inferiority presumed of women by the Declaration of the Rights of Man. 

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Over the course of 17 articles, de Gouges' Declaration detailed what these rights should be - liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression, etc. Just as men declared themselves equal to participate in government, her document stated that women should have the right as well. 

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Her attempts to push this idea lead to her being charged with treason during the rule of the National Convention. She was quickly arrested, tried, and on November 3, 1793, executed by the guillotine.

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The character Olympe De Gouges in The Revolutionists as described by Lauren Gundeson is, ”a Theatre nerd, excitable, passionate, a showman. Widowed and never married, to ensure her personal freedom.”

Olympe wants to be revolutionary but doesn’t want the revolution. She is the absolute armchair activist. She wants to talk like a rebel poet, and get credit for the rebellion, but without getting in too much trouble, hurting her reputation, or messing with her career. She does not want to get bloody. She says she wants to change the world through art, but she really wants fame and praise. What she doesn’t know until the end is that she wants sisters. She wants to be heard by them. She wants to be free of reputation or career and speak the truth of herself. That is the hardest thing for her to do and in the end, she does it with 3 women by her side. ~Lauren Gunderson

 Sarah Mitchell plays Olympe de Gouges, the protagonist of  The Revolutionists.

Sarah Mitchell plays Olympe de Gouges, the protagonist of The Revolutionists.

She is a revolutionary whose words are sharper than any blade.

She wants to be heard.

But will she find her last words…?

Starting September 27, 2018 come see this outspoken-badass-writer make a declaration that will defend equality better than any knife! TownHallTheatre.com

Susan Evans