“Blue Stockings” play coming to campus

Rachel Yim, Staff Reporter

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Starting Thursday, Nov. 14, Oakland University’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance (SMTD) will provide an opportunity to witness the intellectual excitement of the 1890s by presenting the play “Blue Stockings.”

“Blue Stockings,” originally written by director Jessica Swale, follows the story of four young women in Britain in 1896, fighting for education and self-determination against the larger backdrop of women’s suffrage.

“We were interested in producing a play that explored an aspect of the female experience.  It seemed timely and would serve the students,” said Karen Sheridan, director of Blue Stockings and a professor of theater at OU. “The play can be a large cast or smaller. I cast eight men and eight women in the OU production.”

SMTD produces two plays and two musicals every year, according to Sheridan. She said the faculty at OU gather every fall to talk about the genres of plays the majors have not yet worked on.

Her passion can be shown not only in “Blue Stockings,” but also in other plays. She has directed more than 75 plays and theoretical events. Her OU production of “Cloud Nine” was selected to perform at the national festival at Washington, D.C.

“I have always enjoyed directing my students,” she said. “This experience is particularly exciting. Most of the characters in the play are college-aged. My cast is very strong and they know how to work hard and support each other’s work.”

Kelsi Fay, a senior at OU majoring in acting, is playing the role of Elizabeth Welsh who was the headmistress of Girton College in 1896.

Fay said she was inspired by the strong female characters, as well as the historical context, which led her to audition for her current role in the play.

“It is an honor to play someone as influential and real as Mrs. Welsh, and I hope I do her justice,” Fay said. “You get to see their love for education, their love for each other, and their passion to fight for what is right.”

She also mentioned that working with “Synergy On Stage” — a group of artists that are also ASL interpreters — during the rehearsals was special. They allow people with deafness and who are hard of hearing to enjoy the powerful storytelling, making the show more accessible, according to Fay.

In the end, she said that she hopes this play jumpstarts the activist in their audience member, and that they will continue to fight the injustices in this world, just like the characters in the play do.

“Anyone would like this story,” Sheridan said. “It has comedy, dramatic moments — tension and humor. And romance. But mostly, the characters are students with a passion to work hard and make a difference.”

The performances are presented on selected days (Thursdays, Fridays, and weekends) from Nov. 14 to Nov. 24 in Varner Recital Hall. The show is general admission with tickets costing $8 for students and $15 for the general public.

For more information or to purchase a ticket for the play, contact the School of Music, Theatre and Dance at (248) 370-2030 or [email protected]