By Julia Clifton and Olivia Montes
Elm Staff Writers
This semester, Washington College’s Department of Music and Department of Theatre and Dance will present a number of performances including staged readings, senior capstone productions, and one musical.
First on deck is one staged reading, “Fefu and Her Friends” by Maria Irene Fornes, and a rehearsed reading of “Men on Boats” by Jacklyn Backhaus, both directed by Brendon Fox, assistant professor of theater.
These very different plays will be performed by the same cast made up entirely of women.
“Fefu” is about a group of women in the 1930s who are trying to find their voice as they converse about topics ranging from sexuality to education.
“’Fefu and Her Friends’ was a play that I saw in college myself and I have never forgotten that production. I love the quirky characters. I also love the ambiguity of it. Their motives and motivations are not always clear to the audience or themselves,” Fox said.
Conversely, “Men on Boats” is a new play fictionalizing the historical voyage of John Wesley Powell and his group of nine men as they explore and map the Colorado River.
“[The play] is a lot about leadership and performative masculinity and history and who gets to tell the story of history,” Fox said.
Fox highly recommends that audiences attend the performances of both readings to fully understand and appreciate their themes.
These shows will be performed on Feb. 14-16 at 7:30 p.m. in Tawes Theater.
WC’s second musical, “Godspell,” will be presented by the Music Department on March 1-2 at 7:30 p.m. in Hotchkiss Recital Hall.
Based on the music of Stephen Schwartz and the book by John-Michael Tebelak, “Godspell” centers on common parables found in the Gospels of John, Luke, and Matthew, as well as from the themes of traditional hymns and the passion of Christ.
“It’s a collection of Jesus’ parables told in a modern-day perspective with rock and gospel music,” said senior Anna Mayes, the assistant director and stage manager for the show.
Although the characters are ancient history, the cast and crew believe the theme of the show is relevant to contemporary society.
“We’re creating a production which isn’t about religion; it’s about how we should treat each other as human beings,” junior Emily Kreider, assistant choreographer, said.
“It’s about showing kindness and sympathy to those who are different from you — about showing love to those in need. Overall, it’s a show about humanity and compassion, which I think the world could use a little more of today,” Kreider said.
“I am really excited to show everyone how much we have grown in the past year,” Mayes said.
The first senior capstone production will be “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde,” directed by senior Jacqueline Glenn.
Written by Moisés Kaufman, “Gross Indecency” tells the story of renowned author and playwright Oscar Wilde, who was brought to trial for committing acts of “obscenity” with other notable male figures near the end of the 19th century.
The script traces Wilde’s life over the course of three months, as he loses everything, even his wife and children.
Both in the script and in real life, the law used to sentence Wilde to prison remained in effect until 1967.
“Reflecting on this show is a testament to how far we, as a global society, have come in terms of being more open and accepting of homosexuality, but it also paints to me a vivid picture of just how much farther we have to go,” Glenn said.
Also interested in history, Glenn said she values the opportunity to “bring to life” historical figures like Oscar Wilde or Queen Victoria.
“Anyone who has ever read Oscar Wilde in any way should consider seeing this play. Instead of this untouchable playwright and poet we’ve studied in English classes, he’s a broken, saddened man without many options left and no chance to escape his circumstances,” she said.
“Gross Indecency” will be performed on March 22-23 at 7:30 p.m. in Tawes Theater.
For their SCE, seniors John Leslie and Patrick Huff have chosen award-winning play, “The Flick” by Annie Baker. Set in a movie theater, the play focuses on three twenty-somethings who work as staff members.
“I wanted to do a play about people our age, who are really unsure about where they are in life and where they’re going,” Leslie said.
The show will serve as Leslie’s directing thesis and Huff’s performance thesis.
In order to make the show truer to life, Huff and Leslie have decided to stage the production in the Norman James Theater instead of Tawes, and will have the audience sit on the stage, looking into the house of the theater where the show will take place.
“It’s not just about love of movies, it’s about love of life. In the end, that’s what it strives to do. If you’re open about yourself and if you allow yourself to be vulnerable, while it’s risky, it also can open up to these fantastic relationships,” Leslie said.
“The Flick” will be performed in the Norman James Theater in Smith Hall on April 4-6 at 7:30 p.m.
The final production is “The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias” by Michael Yates Crowley, a directing thesis by senior Elizabeth Clemens.
The show, which came out in 2017, focuses on 15-year-old Grace’s experience in court and at school after being raped by a classmate.
“I chose this play because it brings light to issues that can be very difficult to talk about. This play, I hope, will spark a conversation about respect and the issue of sexual assault in our world,” Clemens said.
Junior Kelly Young, the production’s dramaturg, believes the show is especially relevant to contemporary American society.
“I chose to work on this play because I wanted to be part of telling this powerful and important story. I think everybody who is able to should see this production because of its important message. We all have a part to play in stopping rape culture in America,” she said.
For Clemens, one of the show’s messages is about listening and believing survivors.
“With sexual assault being more and more prevalent on college campuses, it is incredibly important that we know how to be supportive allies,” Clemens said.
“Hopefully, after seeing this play, more people will be listening,” she said.
“The Rape of the Sabine Women” will be performed on April 12-13 at 7:30 p.m. in Tawes Theater.