Bien, ce truc !
SANTA FE, N.M. — In the overwhelmingly “masculine” historical narrative of the French Revolution, it can be easy to gloss over the stories of executed Queen Marie Antoinette or infamous radical Charlotte Corday. It’s even easier to never hear about other female figures like feminist and political playwright Olympe de Gouge or the many women of color who were fighting for the abolishment of slavery in the French colonies.
“It’s all about these men fighting,” said local actor Ariana Karp. “Well, there’s over 50 percent of the population we’re forgetting about, and what were they doing, and what was it like for them?”
Karp plays Corday, known for murdering journalist and political leader Jean-Paul Marat, in Santa Fe’s production of “The Revolutionists.”
Courtesy of Cameron Gay
Lauren Gunderson’s comedy about four powerful and passionate – and eventually executed – ladies during the French Revolution will be at the Adobe Rose Theatre until Nov. 4.
The play’s historical fiction follows de Gouges interacting with the other female radicals who want her to document their true stories. The real-life characters include Corday and Marie Antoinette.
The only fictional character – though she is said to be a composite character based on several different activists – is Marianne Angelle, a Haitian abolitionist fighting for the rights of slaves in the Caribbean and other French colonies.
As the four unite, they talk about what feminism means for these women of varying social classes.
The show also stars Mary Beth Lindsey as de Gouges, Maureen Joyce McKenna as Marie Antoinette and Danielle Louise Reddick as Angelle.
“Ultimately, they’re talking about what égalité, liberté means for women,” said Lindsey Hope Pearlman, a Brooklyn-based actor/director who has come to Santa Fe to direct this show. “What rights are being distributed to women during a time of social upheaval where the ruling monarch class is being decapitated and the government of the country is being restructured, what role will women play in that vision for society? And the answer is, not a great role.”
Despite some dramatic moments and the grim ending for all four characters – “their heads are getting chopped off,” Pearlman assured – this play is still a comedy.
“One of the most brilliant things about the play is that it’s a period piece, but the women speak in contemporary, American language,” she said. “Even though they’re talking about pretty lofty or dense feminist philosophy, it sounds like a bunch of girlfriends chit-chatting at a bar or even gossiping about their personal lives.”
And, as many of the cast members pointed out, an important theme of the play is the power of humor in the face of the oppression.
“Sometimes when you’re scared to death and things are at the most stakes, that’s the most humorous,” said Lindsey.
Conversations about the role women play in society and intersectional feminism – where different forms of discrimination, such as racism, sexism and classism, combine – are particularly prevalent in 2018.
Some of the issues of equality that the characters in “The Revolutionists” bring up, the actors noted, are things that women are still fighting for today. Lindsey cited a line of Marie Antoinette’s from the play that she believes provides hope for the future – the doomed queen says that society often can’t see “the heroes of our stories for generations to come.”
Karp added that historical plays like this one can provide a clearer view of the present day.
“The genre of the history play, no matter who’s writing it, is about showing you events in the past and you feel the reverberations of it,” she said. “That’s what Shakespeare’s history plays are, too. It’s 200 years before it’s written, but it’s too dangerous to write about the now. So you talk about the now through the perspective of the past. It’s like a series of mirrors of looking back and then looking forward.”
It was particularly meaningful to put together this production during the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Pearlman said. Just before she came to Santa Fe to start the rehearsal process, she said she was part of a group of women’s rights activists who protested his confirmation hearing and were arrested.
This was before the accusations of sexual assault and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“The fact that we were all together here in the studio when we learned, despite all that, despite all those women and all that energy… and struggle, Kavanaugh was still confirmed,” Pearlman said. “In that moment, there’s like a wave of powerlessness that comes over you. You see hopelessness like a black wall. And then it’s like, ‘No, we have to push through this, we have to keep going, even if it’s a small, teeny, tiny thing of working on this play. Even if it’s the most insignificant thing of just putting this play on and creating this space where we can … .”
“But it’s not insignificant,” Lindsey finished. “Because it touches the lives of everyone who comes to see it … . Hopefully, in one way or another – even if they disagree – the ripples are many.”https://www.abqjournal.com/north
- If you go
WHAT: ‘The Revolutionists’
WHEN: Thursdays-Sundays until Nov. 4. Shows Thursday-Saturday start at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays are at 3 p.m.
WHERE: Adobe Rose Theatre, 1213 B Parkway Drive
TICKETS: General admission is $25. Seniors pay $20 and students $15. Purchase at brownpapertickets.com or by calling 1-800-838-3006. The play is recommended for ages 14 and up. Anyone under the age of 25 can get in for $5 on Thursdays. High school students will be allowed to watch for free any night if there are open seats available.
Un peu loin pour moi, malheureusement.