Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Swarthmore’s Senior Company is currently preparing for a production of Fefu and Her Friends, a feminist play by María Irene Fornés. The play, which comments on the role of women in the 1930s, is set inside a house where eight highly educated and articulate women meet to plan an event. The physical location of the play is a secret, and Elizabeth Stevens, the faculty advisor, says that the audience will be bused to the location.
The play is divided into three acts. During the second act, the audience will be split into groups, and each group will move around the house to see different scenes being enacted. This will give the audience an interactive and personal experience quite different from that of the typical play. Elizabeth Stevens describes Fefu as “a feminist play with moments of surrealism but essentially a naturalistic show commenting on society.”
The Senior Company is composed of the senior theater majors: Jessie Cannizzaro ‘12, Lori Barkin ‘12, Michelle Fennell ‘12, and Ryane Disken-Cahill ‘12. All four women will be acting in, as well producing and directing, the show. They held open auditions earlier in the year for the parts of the four other women. Amanda Klause ‘12 is the play’s Stage Manager. The show is run almost entirely by the seniors, with support from their advisor Elizabeth Stevens and in cooperation with their costume designer. The show may be viewed as the seniors’ thesis, although there will be additional productions by the Honors students in the spring.
María Irene Fornés, the show’s playwright, is a Cuban immigrant who wrote Fefu in 1977. She is described as “one of the major forces of post modern theater” by Elizabeth Stevens. “She has incredibly spare and realistic writing, which creates almost a kind of poetry,” says Stevens.
This is the first time the play will be produced at Swarthmore, although others written by Fornés, such as Mud, have been performed here in the past. The show is set to premiere the weekend of December 2nd and will be free to the public.