HWS Theatre recreated the 1950’s world of crinolines, communists and custard pies in the spring performance of 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche written by Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood, which ran Thursday and Friday, Feb. 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The show took place in the McDonald Theatre of the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts and engaged audiences in an interactive performance.
Directed by Associate Professor of Theatre Chris Woodworth, 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche drops in on the 1956 meeting of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein. While the Cold War escalates outside, the women at the meeting are more preoccupied with judging their annual quiche contest. The society’s five officers, played by Casey Cady ’18, Jacqueline Fisher ’18, Kathleen Fowkes ’18, Isabel Ingram ’19 and Grace Ruble ’18 preside over the competition as nuclear war threatens to ruin their idyllic breakfast.
Woodworth, who says that the first time she read the play’s script she “cackled out loud at some of the humor,” believes 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche gave the cast the opportunity to improvise and interact with the audience, and additionally “play within a specific period and style.”
“Plus, I adore the fact that this is ultimately an affirming story of love, female desire and friendship,” says Woodworth.
The cast and crew have made connections between the empowering content of the play and the history of the Women’s Rights Movement. Students traveled to both the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, N.Y. and the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House in Rochester, N.Y. to learn about the namesake of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein.
Rehearsals for the play included researching various aspects of 1950s gender norms and etiquette then translating them into their characters’ scenes.
Fisher, a political science major, says watching TV shows such as I Love Lucy, viewing Civil Defense videos and anti-communist propaganda assisted her in developing her character. “This helped me really understand the existential dread that all the characters would have been experiencing,” she says.
Claire Abelson ’20, the hair and makeup designer, worked to make the cast look like they belong in a typical 1950’s advertisement.
The rest of the crew also worked to bring the 1950s to the stage. Luis Figueroa ’18 served as the stage manager; Wren Andrews ’21, Anika Hanson ’18 and Veronica Rogers ’20 were hosts and assistant stage managers; and Amelia Bayless-Marr ’21 and Alexander Kerai ’19 were board operators and assistant stage managers.
Guest artist AErin Lanphear returned to work with the HWS Theatre Department as costume designer.
On Friday, Feb. 16, the playwrights Evan Linger and Andrew Hobgood came to campus to deliver the frameworks talk, “5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche: The Title that Wouldn’t Die.” They also led a playwriting workshop on Saturday, Feb. 17.
After each performance, Chelsea Snyder ’12, program coordinator at LGBTQ Center of the Finger Lakes, tabled outside McDonald Theatre to provide information about the organization’s activism and resources in the Finger Lakes region.
5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche is presented by a special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.