The Belle's Stratagem

by Hannah Cowley

Directed by Kerensa Peterson

Part of the Alcyone Festival 08

The Belle’s Stratagem by Hannah Cowley is a romantic comedy that premiered in 1780. It was the most successful of her plays and drew its name from George Farquhar’s The Beaux Stratagem. Its double plotline has been cut to a single one in this version, focusing the story on Letitia and Doricourt who have been pledged to marry one another. Letitia hatches a plan to win Doricourt’s love after their initial meeting leaves him cool and wanting more from a wife. Letitia's entire family is in on the scheme to try and ensure her a lifetime of wealth and happiness.

Featuring: Kelli Cousins, Letitia Guillaud, Andrea Morales, J Ben Parker, Eric Paskey, Jasonn Rose, Bob Wilson, Seth Zurer

Rehearsal Stage Manager: Rachel Lazar

Hanna Cowley

Hailed for her sparkling dialogue and comic portraiture, Hannah Cowleyproved popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Her comedies showcase lively, independent, and thoroughly original heroines negotiating their ways through a London made up of oppressive guardians, ingenious con artists, and a variety of mercenary, jealous, ambivalent, and rakish suitors--and doing so with consummate wit and resourcefulness. She was born to Philip Parkhouse, a bookseller at Tiverton, Devonshire; and married Mr. Cowley, of the East India Company's service, when she was about twenty-five years old. While at the theater with her husband, she expressed that she could write as good a piece as the one being performed and within a fortnight she had written her first play, The Runaway. It was produced at Drury Lane in 1776. Between then and 1795 she wrote twelve more plays, all but one of which were performed at Drury Lane or Covent Garden. Mrs. Cowley was the author of a number of indifferent poems, mainly historical. She died at Tiverton on March 11, 1809.