By Jenna Falconite, Staff Writer
Students in the Queen’s Court Company worked together to put on a production of Jessica Swale’s play Blue Stockings for the 2019 fall drama. The show debuted on November 21 at Brookdale Community College with two additional shows on Nov. 22 and 23.
The play, set in 1896 at Girton College, an all-women’s college at the University of Cambridge in England, centers around four young women, known as the Girton Girls, attending the college and their journey as they study and strive for success. At this time, women were not allowed to graduate or receive diplomas from universities like Cambridge. The girls, along with some of the supportive staff members at Girton, fight for women’s right to graduate.
Senior Aoife Picadio, who played the lead role of Tess Moffat, put a great deal of hard work and dedication into the show. “The most challenging thing about playing Tess was understanding why she makes the decisions she does. I found her character to be very similar to me, yet I could never fully comprehend why she makes certain choices throughout the show,” Picadio said. “After having had the chance to explore her for the past couple of months, I finally came to realize the reasoning behind her decisions and that, if I were to be put in her place during this time period, I would have done the same thing. This is also what I found most exciting about playing her: the fact that we are very similar people and that I learned about myself through being put into her shoes. It was a journey for Tess, but also a journey for [me].”
Picadio, who has been participating in the QCC shows since her sophomore year, also expressed how meaningful Trinity Hall’s theater company has been to her. “My favorite aspect about performing with QCC is the family I get to build with every member. I had the opportunity to meet new people and, in the process, meet some of the greatest friends I will ever have,” Picadio said. “It makes me sad to think that I will have to leave them so soon, but I know I will never forget them. I can’t wait to see how the QCC grows in the future and wish nothing but the best for everyone involved.”
The entire cast worked since September to create this production. The actors completed an extensive amount of research about life for women in the 1890s or other topics that were assigned to them. They presented the information they had learned to their other castmates in the form of powerpoint presentations, videos and pictures.
The Crowning Crew also devoted many weeks of effort behind the scenes. For example, the costume team researched and worked extensively on making costumes that would fit the time period.
“The hardest part about making costumes for this show was the trial and error process by piecing together the fabric. Perseverance is definitely needed on the costume team!” said senior Patti Frees, who helps lead the costume team. She also expressed how proud she is of the progress and potential of the costume team. “When I first started out on the costume crew in freshman year, there were only about four girls, with two of them not knowing how to sew! It’s crazy that our team has grown so dramatically in members and skill level at the end of my time on costumes. I am so grateful to have watched this crew flourish and know the task will be completed by good hands!”
In addition, the set design team painted and designed shelves, banners and other aspects of the set in addition to collecting hundreds of cereal and granola boxes to creatively transform into books for the set.
“I really enjoyed helping out with the show and seeing the pieces of the puzzle slowly come together, but one of my favorite parts was witnessing how all the actresses were so passionate about their work and about telling this story,” said junior Sarah Bilotta, who helped out behind the scenes with set design and sound.
The dedication of the cast and crew did not go unappreciated by audience members. “I thought Blue Stockings was an amazing show! The sets were so cool, and you could see that everyone involved put a lot of effort into building scenery that would fit with the show and would work for the cast,” junior Lucy Retterer said. “Of course, the acting was spectacular too! Everyone stayed in character and made the lines their own! I could see how much passion everyone had for the show, and I am so glad I went to see it!”
Director and drama teacher Ellen Phillips was also pleased with the people behind production. “The most exciting part about directing Blue Stockings has definitely been the collective dedication from the entire cast and crew. Everybody has been so committed and dedicated to making the show a success. As the director, that is truly a wonderful thing to see.”
Blue Stockings also fit in perfectly with Trinity Hall’s mission of educating and empowering young women. The women in the story demonstrate the four core values of leadership, respect, perseverance and faith even though they face many obstacles in their fight for equality.
“I thought the show was a great example of how we try to represent women empowerment beyond the classroom at Trinity Hall,” Bilotta said.