By Megan Palumbo & Morgan Vanwickler– Co-Editor-in-Chief and Art Director
Lasell College Performing Arts and Lasell College Drama Club (LCDC) presented their Spring drama “Strength of Women” March 26-30 in the Yamawaki Auditorium. This year’s production consisted of two, one-act plays that focused on violence against women. The audience was greeted by students of Professor Karin Raye’s sexual violence class, who recommended on- and off-campus resources if people were triggered by the topics discussed in the shows.
The first act was the performance of “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell, directed by Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Steven Bloom. The stage was set up as a kitchen and living room, with the doorway to the upstairs bedroom in the back.
It was a five-person cast with three men and two women. The men were helping the detective investigate the murder of Mr. Wright, who was killed by asphyxiation with a rope. Mrs. Wright was already arrested, but the men couldn’t seem to find any evidence against Mrs. Wright. Meanwhile the women were doing a bit of their own investigation.
“Trifles” is a complicated show because it is filled with subtle nuances. None of the characters ever explicitly say that Mrs. Wright was being abused, the women only hint that Mr. Wright was a hard man and that the house lacked liveliness.
Senior psychology major Molly Parrot sums up what Glaspell purposely leaves out within the lines of “Trifles,” saying, “When that guy in the audience asked what would [the show] look like [in 2019]? I’d say it would look exactly the same because the idea of battered women syndrome and for anyone that’s a victim, not just women, it still holds true where ‘oh, unless your abuser was actually physically hurting you in that moment, you’re guilty.”
The half-cleaned items and less-than-neat stitching the women noticed conducting their investigation are signs that Mrs. Wright may have snapped, but the men did not know what signs to look for. Their biggest finds were an empty bird- cage, and then a dead canary with its neck wrung in the bottom of Mrs. Wright’s sewing basket. No one says outright that death of the canary could have been the motive for the similar murder of Mr. Wright- this is all left for the audience members to piece together.
This display of abuse in a home is important because it sheds light on what happens behind the scenes. First-year secondary education first Emily Kulick, who played Mrs. Hale in “Trifles” said, “It was nice to be able to perform as an artist or as an outlet and allow other people to see it, to make people more aware of what’s going on around the world, and in America today.”
The audience made their way back to their seats after the intermission for the second play, “The Refugee Women” by Don Zolidis, directed by Program Director of the Per- forming Arts Lori L’Italien.
The theatre went dark and a spotlight illuminated the female performers laying out scarves and tapestries on the ground with barbed wire fences of a refugee camp. The characters are from places from Middle East to Africa, displaced as a result of the Trojan War of 1250 B.C.E.
To make the long days more bearable, these women came together to perform their own play called, “The Trojan Women.” This play within a play was strong plot driver, giving the cast members an opportunity to share what they’ve gone through prior to coming to the camp including all the traumas and heartbreak associated with the Trojan War.
Hadiza/Andromache (Kyla Dodge-Goshea) delivered a dramatic dialogue with her previous husband Danny/Talthybius (Dante Torri) as the crowd watched Hadiza’s child be ripped from her arms. She lost her husband to the war and now her daughter, whom she was planning on raising to be stronger than the madness she was in. Hadiza’s story pulled at the audience’s heartstrings and could be connected with the same separation trauma refugees have been experiencing at the Mexican border today.
Senior fashion design and production major Mariah Lang played Claire in “The Refugee Women,” saying, “[Refugee Women] is more open but at the same time is kind of representing being boxed in a refugee camp.”
Another powerful story in “The Refugee Women” was performed by Mercy (Mackenzie Maron) who was a 17-year-old Nigerian refugee. Her story was a flashback of fleeing home with hundreds of people packed onto a tiny ship that lost its engine in the middle of the sea.
Mercy dropped into the water surrounded by her mother and brothers, grabbing onto anything that would keep them afloat. Mercy said, “A man grabbed me and pushed me under the water to keep himself afloat. I could feel the legs around me in the water, kicking me, pushing off of me. I don’t know how I got my head up. The water stung my eyes and then I felt someone’s hands grab me and pull me out of the sea.” The damage this experience has done to Mercy was easily displayed, leaving the audience speechless in awe of her bravery.
Following both performances, the LCDC cast put on a talk-back session with the crowd to discuss the major themes of each play, get feedback and ask remaining questions. Praise was given to the women in “Trifles,” the crowd really grasped that Mrs. Hale’s bird symbolized the last piece of happiness in her life and when her husband killed it, that was her last straw.
Parrott liked how each play was unique but also overlapped with their messages. “‘Refugee Women’ was all about saying word from our past and retelling stories, while Trifles was retelling a story that might have been during a different time period yet had the same theme,” she said. “I think it was neat how many different perspectives ‘Refugee Women’ was able to give. It kind of shows that emotional turmoil for somebody that’s a victim of abuse, where there are days and moments that you’re in love with your abuser and then there’s also times where that’s your abuser.”
Lang was one of the LCDC students that performed in both plays. For her, bouncing between time periods was all about appealing to different stories. “I was overwhelmed sensor-based…I was dealing with this woman who I was kind of standing up for [in Trifles], and then I was standing up for all of these girls as the mom figure [in Refugee Women],” she said.
The biggest takeaway for Lang was standing up for women, something she enjoys expressing through the arts. Despite this show being her last performance at Lasell, she is still looking forward to taking these lessons into her own life.
Lasell College Performing Arts and LCDC are finished for this year, but will be presenting three shows during the 2019-2020 school year: “Children of Eden” is the fall musical, followed by “Children’s Hour” by Lillian Hell- man and “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” by Betsy Kelso.