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Jesusa (Vivia Font), Manuela (Alejandra Escalante) and Tomasita (Sabina Zuniga Varela) discuss a radical course of action in ‘The Tenth Muse,’ a play about a 17th century nun who was regarded as the first published feminist of the New World, now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Jesusa (Vivia Font), Manuela (Alejandra Escalante) and Tomasita (Sabina Zuniga Varela) discuss a radical course of action in ‘The Tenth Muse,’ a play about a 17th century nun who was regarded as the first published feminist of the New World, now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

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Gender Oppression Confronted

Our Opinionated Judge examines 'The Tenth Muse'

The play centers on three young women who find themselves taking refuge in the convent: Jesusa, a Mestiza (half-Spanish and half Amerindian) who has come to care for an ailing nun; Tomasita, a timid Nahua Indian who has come to serve in the kitchen; and Manuela, a noblewoman whose arrival is occasioned by circumstances that are not immediately explained. The three are relegated to the basement storage room and are instructed not to open a locked armoire that sits in the corner. Oppression and class fuel the story.