SARAH WUELLNER, Asst. Sports Editor—
The Revolutionists was the second mainstage production for the 2020-2021 academic year presented at the Michael D. Eisner Center for the Performing Arts in the Sharon Martin Hall. The play live streamed on Saturday, Mar. 20 & 27 at 8 p.m. and on demand Sunday, Mar. 21 & 28.
The Revolutionists by Lauren Gunderson and directed by Professor Cheryl McFarren.
The dark comedy touches on important issues occurring in society today dealing with racism, misogyny, and feminism, among other topics. The play stars Katie Lauck ‘23 as playwright Olympe De Gouges, Destiny Mack ‘21 as Haitian rebel Marianne Angelle, Jordan Zelvin ‘21 as the deposed queen Marie Antoinette, Lucy Dobson ‘22 as assassin Charlotte Corday, and Emily Harris ‘24, Phoebe Martin ‘24 and Caroline Elliott ‘23 as Fraternite.
The play was performed under unique circumstances as COVID-19 still affects the performing arts. However, the cast and crew worked together to stay safe during the rehearsal process and they were able to have the actors perform without masks on. Professor Cheryl McFarren stated in her note from the director, “Our rehearsals were conducted with all of us in masks, separated by ‘social distance.’ Our understudies have known that, this time, they really might be tapped to go on. The college athletes’ testing protocol has been applied to our actors so that they might perform without their masks.”
Continuing from the director’s note, Professor McFarren said “As a performing art, theatre has been profoundly reshaped by the pandemic. And theatre artists have been urgenty resilient and inventive. We have collaborated with enormous energy to imagine and present stories and voices, to discover how we can – despite our separation – nonetheless connect with our audience in real time.” The Denison Department of Theatre is thrilled to have the opportunity to experiment with new forms of presenting theatre despite all of the challenges the pandemic has created. The Revolutionists follows performances from the spring semester; So Full I Could Burst and Here Us.
The Revolutionists features four women with differing personalities, motivations and backgrounds that battle personal and societal problems while also learning to cope with grief. The play is set in 1793 Paris during a time of extremist insanity proceeding the French Revolution. As Olympe de Gous struggles with writer’s block deciding between writing a musical or a play, Charlotte Corday murders Jean-Paul Marat in his bathtub. The four women take the virtual audience on a two-hour encapsulating adventure that is full of tragic and comedic aspects. The women face the consequences of their actions while bonding over experiences of their life that shake their world.
Dr. McFarren told The Denisonian, “I have loved being able to rehearse and present something at this moment. A play about diverse women’s lives and ethics in a time of chaos? Sign me up, because it’s very relevant. What are the things that matter when the world has been turned upside down? How do we summon our courage when indeed we’re terribly scared? But clearly doing a play during the COVID era has its many challenges. I’m proud of all the ways we’ve found to surmount those difficulties and present something for our audience.” One of her favorite quotes from the play is, “Stories are the heartbeat of humanity, and humanity gets really dark when the wrong stories are leading the people.”
The Revolutionists by Laura Gunderson, directed by Professor Cheryl McFarren was a smash hit for the virtual audience tuning in from all over the world. Although theatre during the pandemic may look different and impose challenges, “The show must go on!”