By Caitlin Chappell
Every year, the theatre department puts on a festival to showcase the work of seniors. From April 18 to 21, the festival will feature five female performance majors’ work. Their performances differ but the content is all connected. Each piece tackles issues of identity, confronts societal norms and focuses on historically silenced voices.
Each woman in this group agrees that theatre is a medium that allows one to challenge society. Kora Link ’18 challenges society in her devised performance, a type of performance that does not start with a script. Instead, Link and her collaborators create the text and performance material from an idea or goal. In this case, the goal is to demystify witchcraft and explore gender expression via movement, voice and music.
“I am drawn to bodies occupying space and the role of theater in society, how it can resist social paradigms or reinforce them,” Link said. “I am personally interested in making theater that resists or subverts societal roles.”
Similarly, Kalea Lee-Fleischman ’18 explores the use of bodies in space to make a social and political commentary through a devised solo performance.
“We always talk about what the function of theater is in the community, in the society, and theater has always been a place to question and to complicate,” Lee-Fleischman said.
According to Lee-Fleischman, the female performer’s body is political and has been used to make statements about society. Lee-Fleischman’s piece differs from Link’s in that Lee-Fleischman tackles issues of societal binaries one cannot fit in via the use of body and sound.
“I started thinking about more of those binaries that are more human,” Lee-Fleischman said. “A lot of those were more societal, a lot of those were very relevant to political interests right now.”
Two others, Angela An ’18 and Emily de Lorimier ’18, are collaborating to produce a work of forum theater. Their work deals with how institutions handle disabilities. The type of theater they use focuses on social justice and how the community can work together to solve issues. It is dependent on community interaction. In their work, they collaborate with student actors and will perform in dorms so the community can discuss. An, a double major in SOAN and theatre, said that this piece is an example of interdisciplinary theater.
“We’re living in a world mixed with different people and part of the job of anthropology is having the tools to understand someone else and be able to support them,” An said. “We’re trying to represent different voices on stage, represent someone not us. We’re telling the story of others not ourselves in different ways. We try to represent the voices we want society to hear.”
De Lorimier has been interested in forum theater since high school and has seen it empower others
“The woman who taught theater of the oppressed used it to parse through some issues that kids were having that otherwise wouldn’t have been talked about,” de Lorimier said. “There were things that very close friends of mine wouldn’t have otherwise talked about.”
In these cases, theater enables one to be heard, a key facet to the thesis that Delaney Bloomquist ’18 wrote. Bloomquist directs “Trifles,” a 1916 play written by Susan Glaspell, about how the legal system silences women and how women’s trauma is often not heard until too late. Bloomquist views the issues in 1916 as the same issues affecting people today.
“So many women have been yelling for so long about the things that’ve been happening, and now that people are listening I feel like what I can do is add my voice to the mix of proof that we’re all aware of what’s going on,” Bloomquist said. “This movement isn’t going anywhere.”
The women in this department use theater as a platform to speak out not only for themselves but for those who have been silenced for a long time, empowering themselves and others on the way.
“Women are not going anywhere,” said Bloomquist, “Except for up.”