By Len La Rocca
Feminism and female empowerment has become a contemporary theme in politics and society. Some artists have also adapted these themes into their works –– and plays in particular –– in order to share certain perspectives on these issues through a fresh medium.
In honor of Women’s History Month, TCNJ Lyric Theatre performed two one-act plays, “A Woman’s Honor” and “Trifles,” written by the late feminist playwright Susan Glaspell. The performances attracted students, parents and faculty to Don Evans Black Box Theater on March 13 and 14 at 8 p.m.
Themes of patriarchal oppression dominated the night. Although Glaspell’s works were created in the early 1900s, her messages still resonated with a contemporary audience.
Audience members were eager to experience the performer’s rendition of these classic plays and support familiar cast members.
“I’m really excited because three of my friends are here,” said Aliyah Nasir, a sophomore psychology major. “They’re really talented performers and I’m really excited to see what they have to show us.”
The night kicked off with “A Woman’s Honor,” which is set in a New York City interrogation room where where Gordon Wallace is being held for an alleged murder. In the satirical comedy, Wallace pleads guilty to a crime he did not commit for the sake of “defending a woman’s honor.” Wallace would rather suffer in prison than admit he spent the night with a woman and possibly tarnish her reputation, a theme that poked fun at traditional gender roles and expectations.
“A Woman’s Honor” was followed by “Trifles,” which shed light on the toxicity of classic patriarchy through the story of a domestically-abused woman who becomes fed up with her oppressor.
This play takes place in a couple’s abandoned farmhouse during the 1930s. A sheriff and a county attorney are brought to the house to investigate the husband’s murder, suspecting that his wife, Minnie, committed the crime. The men are accompanied by their wives, who find overwhelming evidence that Minnie was a victim of domestic abuse but refuse to share this with their husbands. As a result, Minnie’s motives are unacknowledged, highlighting the theme of female oppression.
At the end of the night, performers from both plays came out for a bow and were met with a roaring round of applause.
Nicholas Tarantino, a senior nursing major, worked as the cast’s hair and makeup artist. Although it proved to be a challenging task, Tarantino said that watching the plays come alive on stage made the process worthwhile.
“I was with the cast (for three days before the show), so it was interesting coming so close to the end and seeing a finalized product and putting that last touch of color on top,” he said.
Aaron Agustin, a sophomore health and exercise science major, was happy to rise to the challenge that his roles presented. He starred in both plays as Gordon Wallace in “A Woman’s Honor” and the sheriff in “Trifles.”
“It was actually a lot of work,” he said. “At first I didn’t have a thought of what would happen, but working with the cast, we made the story come alive.”