Angst and Undergarments: Uncommon Women Getting Ready to Go

What are you doing this Saturday night besides going to the Blue and Silver? If you’re anyone who’s anyone, you should be going to see “Uncommon Women and Others,” a workshop theatre production directed by Ali Rosen ’03. Written by Wendy Wasserstein, this play, set in the 1970’s, deals largely with women’s movements at the time. Don’t let this scare you away, though. Men and women alike are sure to enjoy this hilarious play, jam-packed with talent. “Uncommon Women” tells the stories of several young women at Mount Holyoke College. Though it deals with many serious issues that the girls go through during their time at Mount Holyoke, the mood is light throughout, creating a humorous and unique play. Flashing back from a six-year reunion, the girls play out scenes from their college days, piecing together only the most memorable and outrageous of their college moments. The cast of “Uncommon Women” is solely female, with the exception of Sam Beattie ’03, who puts an ironic spin on the show as “The voice of man.” Director Ali Rosen chose to take on the daunting and unique challenge of an all-female show due to the “large outcry of female actors” at Phillips Academy. Says Rosen, “It’s unfair that there are so many girls out there who try to get in shows while directors must search out and beg boys to fill roles.” Rosen has decided to make it her mission to try to break free from the ordinary. Much like last term’s theatre classroom “Reverse Transcription,” which Rosen also directed, “Uncommon Women” is a unique and exciting show, with bizarre, and many times, provocative humor. The very diverse cast is composed of an extremely talented group of actors from almost every class. As far as the experience of the cast goes, there are both the “familiar faces” of PA theatre (Meg Dallett ’03, Drama Lab producer) as well as some fresh ones (Abbe Anderson ’03, and Mariah Russell ’04). Russell, having a large career in backstage technical support, is extremely excited and thankful about her stage debut. “I couldn’t have imagined a more fun first time performance. Ali [Rosen] has really put together a cast of fine talents that help us newcomers feel welcome.” Rosen herself is relatively new at directing, enabling her to put a new spin on the show. Adding to the talented cast are Jenny Byer ’04, Brittney Bailey ’03, Kaitlin Ainsworth ’03, Melanie Kress ’05, Kaitlin Alsofrom ’05, and Jean Marie Gossard ’05. This “all-star” cast is outstanding, and according to Rosen, “Everyone really pulls it off.” Stage manager Dounia Sidki ’03 also seems to have taken to Andover theatre quite nicely working on her first production here. The promiscuous and over-the-top character Rita, played by Bailey, contrasts sharply with Samantha, Dallett’s role, whom Rita describes as the “ideal” woman. Ainsworth’s character, Mrs. Plum, presides over the raucous and often unruly girls as their house counselor, looking at the younger generation and seeing the possibilities that the girls have in an almost nostalgic light. Each character is completely different from the next, with the “gross me out” attitude of Byer’s character serving as the polar opposite of Russell’s, who seldom says a word. The show’s scenes are more like memories: short and vivid. Consequently, Rosen has employed the use of extensive props and maximizing the area in front of the curtain of the spacious Tang stage. Scene changes are quick and effective, with Beattie’s narration holding them together. The lighting has been kept simple to keep the emphasis on the characters, rather than the effects. Rehearsing since the beginning of the term for five days a week, “Uncommon Women” is the first of three theatre workshops to go up this term. Workshop directors Rosen, Susannah Nitz Gund ’04, and Lexie Kuhn ’04 are all “excited to do longer shows and to have access to Tang,” says Rosen. Matt London ’03, producer of “Uncommon Women,” said, “There is a lack of pressure in the theatre workshops. As a result, the stress level of these shows goes down.” Rehearsals prove this point. “The actors all look like they’re having a good time, and I don’t see why they wouldn’t,” says London. Rosen has done a great job coaching and directing the actors in the short time that she has had, and it shows in the actors’ performances. “Uncommon Women and Others” is a show that everyone should go see this weekend. Throughout the entire show, there is a very positive message for girls, and with such a strong cast, this show is definitely not one to miss at 7:00 on Saturday evening in Tang Theatre. Admission is free.