What the Ladies Do (2016)

To quote the jarring, violent final monologue of this brilliant play, “Thank you very much thank you very much thank you VERY much” to everyone who came out to this wildly successful show!  Imagine Jason Voorhees’ mom at age nine, processing social pressures and Jane Austen novels as she plays with her dollhouse: What the Ladies Do hilariously (and eventually, morbidly) stages the events within that dollhouse.

The short ensemble play features three cousins who live in an absurd and anachronistic version of the same society you would expect to see in Chekhov’s Three Sisters.  The middle cousin Charlotte is ostensibly the dominant woman in the drawing room, as it is her father who owns the house where they all live.  But she she is an ambivalent force, seemingly more interested in her “favorite hobby” of embroidery than social obligations or politics – “the state of the country being what it is” lingering ominously outside the walls of the room.  The youngest cousin, Mary, is the most sexually progressive and outspoken of the group, while eldest cousin Elizabeth is prudishly obsessed with her Bible.  Mary and Elizabeth, however, though equally strong in their convictions, are both deceptive and manipulative as they fight verbally to win the support of Charlotte.  As the play unfolds, Charlotte will finally choose an alignment, but the cruelty of the rules in their games still has consequences.

 An audience favorite at Blunt Objects Theatre’s Bacchanalia 2016 New Play Readings Festival, this dark and irreverent comedy received a world premiere in Houston, TX as part of the TWO! SHORT! PLAYS! event in September 2016, and was performed by Blunt Objects Theatre at Playhouse NOLA in November of 2016.

The cast included the talent of:

Julie Dietz as Elizabeth

Maggie White as Charlotte

Linnea Gregg as Mary

Written by B N Reichenberger

Directed by Kendra Unique Wills
Stage Management by Bohrs Hoff

As you may have noticed from the date on the poster, yes, we opened the day after Election Day.  We maintain a nonpartisan stance as a company (we wouldn’t deign to support any current American political party, anyhow), but it would be a lie if we didn’t admit the joyful wave of #nastywomen on social media we rode on in the weeks leading up to this show, that all of us weren’t staring at election results thinking, “It… honestly says that?”  The mood on opening night was strange, but our audience clearly shared in the national feelings of confusion and defeat on that night – and we rose to the occasion to give them respite through our art.  The play was simultaneously an escape – hilarious and absurd and filled with amusements – and hauntingly relevant in it’s subject matter.  Our spirits quickly became defiantly joyful, and this became our most successful show to date because of an excellent script, an excellent director, and an excellent cast who were all supportive of each other’s risks and boundaries throughout the entire process.

As Mary says, when she begrudgingly prays alongside Elizabeth, “Thank you for making us all beautiful and accomplished” that we are unable to coordinate with the cast to make an extension of this wonderful show.  However, we do hope to work with each and every one of them again.  The Bacchanalia New Play Readings will become an annual event, and we also have an exciting world premiere coming in the Fall.  The world is scarier today than it was when we first started this loose collective of artists, and it’s hard to know what the right direction is sometimes.  So in times like this, it’s important to remember the words of Mary: “Don’t be a shit-head.  You’ve got to practice, or you’ll suck at the ball and embarrass us.”  All we can hope to do is practice our art, and we hope you can join us again soon!

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