HWS Theatre will be taking audiences back in time to 1956 with their upcoming production of 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche. The show, written by Andrew Hobgood and Evan Linder, will run 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 in the McDonald Theatre at the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts.
Audience members will be transported back to the world of the Cold War era, where 5 members of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein are meeting for their annual quiche breakfast. Amidst the external turmoil of Cold War tensions, the five women, played by Casey Cady ‘18, Jacqueline Fisher ‘18, Kathleen Fowkes ‘18, Isabel Ingram ‘19, and Grace Ruble ‘21, hold their annual quiche contest.
Every aspect of the production, directed by Associate Professor of Theatre Chris Woodworth, aims to create an authenticity that will bring audience-members back in time. According to Veronica Rogers ’20, 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche is uniquely interactive. Rogers is one of three “hostesses” who interact with audience members before and during the play, escorting them to their seats and making period-appropriate conversation. She says this makes the show unpredictable and helps engage the audience with the story.
Luis Figueroa ’18 is the Stage Manager, and Alex Kerai ’19 and Amelia Bayless-Marr ’21 are Assistant Stage Managers along with the hostesses, played by Anika Hanson ’18, Wren Andrews ’21, and Veronica Rogers ’20, who also serve as Assistant Stage Managers.
Each cast member and hostess has spent time researching and developing an accurate character. Wren Andrews ’21, one of the hostesses for the show, has considered every detail, from the etiquette of sitting down at a table to the colloquialisms of the time. “We’re really trying to transport the audience to a different time and make them feel like they’re part of the quiche breakfast,” Andrews says. “We’re not just showing you, we’re including you.”
The play is a satire of the anxieties of the Cold War period, presented through absurd and hilarious situations. According to the playwrights, the play’s message is achieved through the honest portrayal of characters who take these absurd situations quite seriously.
Because of this importance, significant rehearsal time was dedicated to character development, through research and improvising in character. The cast members and hostesses returned from Winter Break early for a week of intensive character development, and improvisation plays an essential role in telling the story. Alex Kerai ’19 says it’s been fascinating “seeing how each person approaches their characterization of the period through lighting, costumes, or physical movements.”
Many of the students involved emphasized what a wonderful experience it has been to work with a small cast of dedicated people. The tight-knit community further contributes to a sense of authenticity between the actors. Isabel Ingram ’19, who plays Vern Schultz in the show, attests that “ensemble pieces… where every cast member is on stage for nearly the entire play require a special bond between cast mates and I think we five have found that bond.”
Though the play’s story takes place decades in the past, the issues presented within it are still very relevant to today. Wren Andrews ’21 notes that because of its non-traditional, contemporary format and the socially-progressive ideas presented within it, this production will probably encourage interesting conversation and discussion. Isabel Ingram agrees that each character’s “exploration of themselves, specifically their sexualities, in a time when women had very specific and high expectations is one of the most fascinating journeys to get to unpack.”
Ingram also emphasizes that the play will lead audience members to consider how themes of fear, triumph, and unity in the face of oppression are still relevant in today’s society.
This production of 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche is especially exciting because the playwrights, Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood, will be attending the show on Friday, Feb. 16th. They will give a Frame/Works talk at 4:30, which is free and open to the public. Linder and Hobgood will also lead a playwriting workshop the next day for HWS students.
Tickets for the show are available in the box office of the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts for $5. A limited number of free tickets will be given to HWS students an hour before each show begins.