Friday, February 22, 2019
‘The Revolutionists’ Plumb Past to Make Statement About Today
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The women wear contemporary clothes with an element of the past, such as corsets, to give the feel of living in both worlds. Plus Marie Antoinette’s three-pound wig, of course.
 
Monday, January 14, 2019
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Imagine sitting at the feet of Marie Antoinette and three other badass women as they plot murder, marches and terrorism during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror.

That’s the sassy, hold-on-to-your-seats theatrical adventure that The Spot is gifting to the Wood River Valley.

The play will take the stage Jan. 24 through Feb. 2 at The Spot in Ketchum.

Lauren Gunderson’s hit comedy “The Revolutionists” introduces up four remarkable women who lived in the shadow of the guillotine in 1793 Paris.

It shows them as they dream up ways to change the world, challenge the patriarchy and enact vengeance as what was a hopeful revolution for the people begins sinking into hyper-violent, hypocritical male rhetoric. All done with rapid-fire thought-provoking and funny verbal volleys similar to contemporary TV banter.

“In theater it’s rare to find plays that emphasize the female perspective,” said Yanna Lantz, who plays Marie Antoinette. “This play does that gracefully through the lens of four kickass women—each as incredible as the next.”

Three of the women are historically real; the fourth is a composite of women working for freedom and equality in the French Caribbean.

And, while the women may never have met one another in real life, many of the things they go through, including beheading, did happen.

Ingrid Werner, of Oslo, Norway, plays the revolutionary playwright Olympe De Gouges, who is charged with coming up words that will inspire rebellion.

Aly Wepplo, plays Charlotte Corday who was posthumously nicknamed the “Angel of Assassination” for exterminating the life of an extremist newspaperman whom she believed responsible for the brutality of the Reign of Terror.

Yanna Lantz plays Marie Antoinette who, though a spoiled aristocrat who eventually lost her head, wasn’t afraid to voice her own ideas and thoughts in a world where no one listened to women.

And Savina Barini plays Marianne Angelle, a sassy free slave-turned-spy from Haiti.

Barini, who grew up in Twin Falls, played Mother Superior in St. Thomas Playhouse’s “Sister Act” and is majoring in musical theater at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

She hesitated to take on the role of Marianne, the only fictional character in the play, because, she said, feminism has not been kind to people of color.

Susan B. Anthony said it would be degrading if black people got the vote before white women, she noted. And black women are often asked to separate their color from their gender when it comes to feminist issues.

“You can’t do that—there are overlaps,” she said.

For instance, she said, while white women get only 75 cents for every dollar a man makes, black women get 68 cents and Latino women, 53 cents.

“But the character is well written—she feels really real. And the play is funny,” she said. “And comedy is always a way to get people to talk about things.”

Still, noted the play’s director Natalie Battistone, some of the things Marianne says are chilling to hear because so much has not changed 226 years later.

Battistone said she hopes local audiences will be able to relate to the play. As playwright Gunderson said, the only difference between this play and today is the time period and continent.

“The play feels so now,” said Wepplo. “It’s not like plays we’ve seen before It’s funny and thought provoking and heartbreaking all at once. This is theatre our time will be remembered for, and it’s exciting to see it produced in the valley.”

The play also shows off the power of storytelling, said Wepplo.

“We all studied the French Revolution in school, however briefly, but the storytelling of this script gives new insight into that history. What do we choose to remember? How do we pass those memories on? We all have influence over what future generations will know about our past.”

Lantz has been delving into the history of Marie Antoinette and is treating the character with reverence.

“It is so, so, so fun to play Marie. I really enjoy researching characters and to have such a plethora of information to dive into is a real gift. Marie is truly a legend and I hope to do her justice.”

One of the crazy things the cast has learned about Marie Antoinette is that she had what she called “a closed birthing room.”

“There were only 200 people present at the birth of her children,” Battistone said. I also learned that they molded champagne glasses off her breast—I think Kate Moss did that, too.”

Battistone says the play asks some important questions, such as: Is violence needed to make change or can rhetoric make change? Or, is art in any of its forms able to make change?

“What endures and what changes the path of history? I know what I respond to best is art, as it allows me to take on change in my own way instead of being told how to do it,” she said.

And what does the cast hope audiences will take away from this play by a woman who is the most-produced female playwright of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 theatrical seasons?

 “I hope they’ll find themselves quoting Marie Antoinette,” said Wepplo. “They’ll definitely see her in a new way.”

IF YOU GO:

What: “The Revolutionists”

When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24-26 and Jan. 29-Feb. 2; 2 p.m. Jan. 26 and Feb. 2.

Where: The Spot, 220 Lewis St., Ketchum

Tickets: $25; $13 for those under 30 with ID, available at www.spotsunvalley.com.

 

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