Training Theatre Artists to Make a Difference
MFA Playwriting Candidate Lauren Mitchell reflects on her experiences stage-managing ‘The Revolutionists’
The greatest part about stage-managing The Revolutionists is witnessing the rewriting of history.
Playwright Lauren Gunderson recently blew the theatre world apart with her rolling world premiere of I And You, subsequently receiving multiple awards. So when Jon Klein (head of the MFA Playwriting program) asked if I wanted to work on Lauren’s new play, I jumped at the chance. Even if stage-managing was going to take a HUGE chunk out of my schedule, I suspected it would be worth it. And I was right.
The university has The Revolutionists as a play about the French Revolution. But is it, really? Sure, Gunderson’s characters are based on real women who lived during the Revolution, but then…wait. It’s based on real women. Not men. Not the Jacobins who dominated the National Assembly. Not the dethroned, betrayed King Louis XVI. The play takes as its subjects four women from different corners of French culture, who manage to forge a bond between the Bastille and the beheadings. The Revolution surrounds them. It’s the topic of their conversation and the common thread between them. On the surface, the play has all the trappings of a French Revolution play. But the Revolution is not the reason they exist. It’s not the reason that Lauren Gunderson chose to present them to the world on stage.
The Revolutionists is a play about four women, and a play about womanhood. The characters explore what it truly means to be a woman in both eighteenth century France and modern-day America. Oppression, sex, motherhood, career discrimination…this play has got it all. These aren’t distant figures of our past. These are depictions of ourselves, and our own modern-day struggle for gender equality. The beauty of this new play is that it rewrites the narrative of history not only to include women, but to reveal the heroines who’ve been hidden for centuries.
‘The Revolutionists’ runs in Hartke Theatre April 23-26