Voltaire called her a “soul born sincere,” “with good sense,” and “justice in her heart.”

Meet Madame de Pompadour, Titled Mistress to King Louis XV in the mid 1700s.  Accomplished and brilliant, this famed beauty was the first woman to hold and maintain power in government who was not born to it.  Though a commoner, she captivated the King and, for almost 20 years, she functioned as his secretary and prime minister-behind-the-scenes.

With “Pompadour,” ACT premiers a new play by Ashland playwright, Molly Best Tinsley.  Directed by Oregon Shakespeare Festival veteran, Peggy Rubin, the one-woman drama stars Jeannine Grizzard as the ingenious Marquise.  Tinsley describes Pompadour as a woman who “broke the class ceiling” in the mid-1700s, achieving an unprecedented leading role in the nation’s history before the Revolution.  Though sexually supplanted, she managed to maintain her role as “Mistress of France,” until her death at 43.

Tinsley’s play begins at the end, when Pompadour has had a potentially fatal confrontation with the King’s latest young lover.  As she clings to life in her chambers at Versailles, she begins to make sense of her own.