Workshop: Revenger’s Tragedy / Convent of Pleasure – Saturday 9th March 2024

Workshop: Revenger’s Tragedy / Convent of Pleasure

Led by Zoë Svendsen

(theatre director/dramaturg and lecturer in drama and performance)


9th March 2024


J.E. Wilson Studio



This workshop will involve the reading and discussion of two early modern plays: Thomas Middleton’s The Revenger’s Tragedy (1606) and Margaret Cavendish’s The Convent of Pleasure (1668). Zoë is embarking on (re-)imagining these early modern plays through the lens of queer ecology and adrienne maree brown’s pleasure activism. This pairing of plays is interested in an examination of a white supremacist patriarchal model of hypermasculinity that turns on itself, and juxtaposing this with Cavendish’s exploration of a prototype of an alternative world. The workshop will explore dramaturgical principles developed both through working on early modern dramas at the Globe and Sam Wanamaker theatres (indoors and outdoors), particularly relating to modes of attention, as well as apply the ecological and anti-colonial principles developed in Zoë’s work in contemporary participatory performance, and Climate Dramaturgy (see Environmental Action at the Donmar/ Climate Conversations Report).


Zoë particularly welcomes interest from female, non-binary, and/or trans participants for this early-stage exploration of practice-led research she is developing with writer Charlie Josephine (I, Joan (Globe) /Cowbois (RSC/Royal Court)), and choreographer and movement director, Jenni Jackson (I, Joan / Cowbois / Merchant of Venice Sam Wanamaker Playhouse).  The workshop will centre on reading the plays aloud, and exploring the affordances they offer for thinking about the present.


Participants do not need to have acting experience or special knowledge of the early modern period (although both are welcome), but a willingness to read aloud is helpful. It will be possible to let anyone with access requirements have a script a couple of days in advance.


Please sign up on this online form to express your interest and outline any access needs.

[To Google form].   Contact zas21 with any additional queries.

Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.




Zoë Svendsen (Zoë/her) is a UK-based theatre director/dramaturg. As dramaturg: Duchess of Malfi, Hamlet, Merchant of Venice (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse); The Tempest, Macbeth (Globe Theatre); Othello and Edward II (National Theatre); Arden of Faversham and Macbeth (RSC); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Measure for Measure and The Changeling (Young Vic); Miss Julie (Aarhus); Mone Rekho and Borderlands with Soumik Datta (Purcell Rooms/Queen Elizabeth Hall/tour). As director, Zoë makes participatory theatre performances exploring ecological crisis and capitalism, including the Amt für Zuwart und Gegenkunft @reEDOcate me! Floating University, Berlin; Love Letters to a Liveable Future (Cambridge Junction); Ness, by Robert Macfarlane (Metal/Estuary Festival); Factory of the Future (Oslo Architecture Triennale); Artsadmin Green Commission, WE KNOW NOT WHAT WE MAY BE (Barbican), World Factory (NewWolsey Theatre/Young Vic/tour); 3rd Ring Out (Tipping Point commission; UK tour).  Zoë is Associate Artist at Cambridge Junction and Hightide theatre company and lectures on dramaturgy at the University of Cambridge. As Associate Artist at the Donmar Warehouse in 2022 Zoë developed the concept of ‘climate dramaturgy’. In September 2023, Zoë curated a day-long event with the three National Theatres (Scotland, Wales, UK), to explore the challenges and affordances artist-led climate care. Zoë’s book, Theatre & Dramaturgy, is published by Bloomsbury.



This event has been made possible with the support of a Judith E Wilson Fund Practice-Led Research Grant Award.

Although the Faculty of English building has step-free access, please be aware that the Judith E Wilson Drama Studio is located in the basement of the building.  It is accessible via the Faculty lift or via a stairwell.

Please do not attend this event if you are experiencing any cold-like symptoms.