It’s all in the cup

A fortune teller peddles the whispers written in the stars, in one of oldest professions still forbidden to women. For a woman who drinks from the cup of knowledge is aware she can support herself financially and emotionally, and what dear reader, is more threatening than that?

I’m *very* excited to announce a new project that’s been in the works since March, in collaboration with Bea Goodwin, a director I love working with and have happily been all things related to tea reading back and forth over the e-waves for the last 9 months. Just recently Letter of Marque Theater, whom I also adore working with decided to jump on as a co-producer and so we can happily put this little teaser featuring the beautiful Bry Payne into the world…

I personally have been interested in tea reading, since I was a child after my Welsh Grandmother mentioned how she would get her leaves read during WWII. It was a light entertainment that could give one hope and keep one grounded in the here and now, while bombs and uncertainty sounded off all around them. Bea’s brother also read tea leaves and so we started exploring.

The very first book on tea- reading was published in the 1800’s, by a ‘Highland Seer’. Books on tea reading are rare, as it was an art mostly passed from mother to daughter.

The Tea Reading is interesting in that it is disdainful of anyone charging money for fortune telling, instead trusting the highland ‘spae-women’ who read their own fortunes for free. This suggests it may have have written by a man, as working class women were using tasseography to provide for their families. It was an option for widows, and working class women that didn’t have men to provide for them, and as such was criminalized. It was associated with prostitutes, to the point where women practicing tea reading started opening their own tea shops, where it would be acceptable to go alone (even to dine at a restaurant alone as a woman was scandalous). Fortune tellers would also start to only read for women, also protecting them from undercover police. This actually lead to the first female detectives being hired specifically to investigate them.

The book is interesting, in that fortune telling had reached up the highlands. This was due to Robert Fortune, a Scottish botanist who had been hired by the East India Tea company in 1843 to infiltrate china’s tea production and smuggled out plants and cuttings, which he shipped to India and break China’s monopoly on tea production. Robert Fortune ended up bringing tea as well as back to Scotland, ultimately helping to break the upperclass’ monopoly on tea, making it affordable for the working class,and allowing working women to make a living from fortune telling, rather than just the Romani Gypsys that had been practicing in Upperclass ladies parlours.

Some come into our parlour, Jan 29th-31st and see what we have in store for you….

A fortune teller peddles the whispers written in the stars, in one of oldest professions still forbidden to women. For a woman who drinks from the cup of knowledge is aware she can support herself financially and emotionally, and what dear reader, is more threatening than that?

For the pittance of a cup of tea, join us for an immersive fortune telling performance in Gather Town and explore a new world within.

Cup of Knowledge
Jan 29th-31st
Shows at 7pm, 8pm, and 9pm (ET)
Tickets are very limited!

Book here

Produced by Bea Goodwin, Claire Townsend,
and Letter of Marque Theater Company

Words by Bea Goodwin
Music by Whitney George
Design by Claire Townsend

Bryce Payne, fortune teller
Ashley Hedlund, trumpet
Mary Ann Ybarra, piano

What’s Gather Town? Gather is an online proximity-based social interaction platform. Sorta like Zoom meets original Zelda, part video game, part video conference. Gather does not require any downloads and is free with your ticket. To learn more and try a demo, please visit https://gather.town/

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