how to write a

based on the letters of marie de rabutin-chantal


HOW TO WRITE A LETTER is a theatrical exploration of Marie de Rabutin-Chantal’s 17th-century letters. In the project we turn to the stage to explore the writer and her letters.

Mme de Sévigné, as she is more commonly known, wrote in the same century as did Descartes, Corneille, La Rochefoucauld, La Fontaine, Molière, Pascal, La Fayette and Racine. And she wrote letters exclusively. The vast majority of her letters – 764 of the 1120 known – were written to her daughter Françoise.

Ever since a few of them were published shortly after her death in 1696, her letters have been talked about and shared. Commentary has centered on their portrait of the century and on her motherhood, while basic questions about the author’s desire to create a body of work continue to be debated.

By bringing the letters to the stage, we open a new space to examine them. We read them as actors. And in the debates that rage on craft and creation, we listen. On our feet.


The project took root at the Ko Festival of Performance during a biographical theatre workshop run by Katie Pearl and Kathy Randels in 2005. Pearl and Randels were performing in a piece called NITA AND ZITA, collaboratively created by the performers, and writer and director Lisa D’Amour.

The piece as it stands today began in 2008 with a series of development workshops and residencies run by Katie Pearl and Ellen Di Giovanni, first independently and then as part of a series of summer residencies at the Ko Festival of Performance.

The project

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