SANTA CRUZ SHAKESPEARE 201534 DIRECTORS NOTES Katherine Burris Although The Rover was written over 330 years ago we remain all too familiar with the sexual politics that governed Aphra Behns world and the economic and social subjugation her female characters face. It is no wonder Behn chose Carnival the period of festivities preceding Lent for the setting of this play creating a space in which the women of The Rover could reclaim control of their bodies and their sexuality. This atmosphere subverts the patriarchy of the outside world and affords Hellena and Florinda the opportunity to escape the enforced restrictions of class and cultural expectations of gender performance. Mikhail Bakhtin wrote Carnival is not a spectacle seen by the people they live in it and everyone participates because its very idea embraces all the people During carnival time life is subject only to its laws that is the laws of its own freedom. Capturing this atmosphere in a way that would resonate with a contemporary audience was important to me and played a large role in my decision to set our production at Woodstock in the summer of 1969. Just as in Behns play the wildly intoxicating setting temporarily displaces but cannot erase as we will see the political and physical aggression of the outside world. Behns subject matter is as regrettably topical as her writing is influential a rape is reported every 6.2 minutes in this country and the pandemic of sexual assault and harassment continues to thrive. By shedding light on violence against women which was then commonplace Behn pushed the boundaries of theatre against a display of established patriarchy. In A Room of Ones Own Virginia Woolf writes All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds. I feel deeply privilegedespecially as a woman to be entrusted with this brilliant play and to be working with a company that is making such strides towards gender equity. Enjoy DRAMATURGS NOTES wendy burr The Restoration period in England was a time of tremendous change well known in theatre history for marking the end of the almost twenty-year ban on theatre. More importantly however Englands Restoration is seen as a monumental time for the growing sense of liberation among women in the Western world finally allowing females to perform legally on stage in addition to other social privileges. Aphra Behn 1640-89 for example was among the first professional female playwrights in England following the restoration of King Charles II to the throne in 1660. Royalists supporters of the monarchy also known as cavaliers rejoiced in the return of their rightful leader and with him the freedom to celebrate their culture and customs anew. While Charles reputation abroad had suffered during his exile - due to his excessive partying and want of women supporters welcomed back the young king and his formerly banished cavaliers. Years later Aphra Behn a known Royalist and former spy for Charles II put her quill to paper writing her best known play The Rover or the Banishd Cavaliers 1677 which is thought to be a tribute to Charles and his men. In truth The Rover is a comedic platform for feminist thought and was first performed by the Dukes Company at Dorset Garden in London in 1677. Cleverly weaving the tale of a group of cavaliers who encounter wild witty and freethinking women during celebrations of Carnival The Rover tells of friends Wilmore Belvile and Blunt who roam the streets of Naples in search of a little life love and happiness. To their delight despite struggle and strife they meet such women as Hellena Florinda and Angellica who humorously reshape their expectations of women and their understanding of a womans agency and natural right to live and love independently within the world.