An Albion senior is directing a play as a lesson on gender stereotypes.
Emily Thomson, Garden City senior, decided to take the road less traveled with her senior thesis, as she graduates this spring. In addition to writing a standard paper for her thesis, Thomson chose to direct a play titled “The Woman Taken in Adultery,” and added a bit of a twist.
“My thesis was set up as a gender study of liturgical drama,” Thomson said. “Taking it and flipping around some of the gendered roles.”
The production, which took place in the Herrick Black Box theater, was the joint effort of nine actors and actresses, and two tech crew members who oversaw the production from behind the scenes.
“Directing the show is the easiest way to actually see what the differences would be if I switched the gendered parts of the piece,” Thomson said. “Without a real character, I don’t think that you can assign too much specificity to gendered parts.”
The way Thomson accomplished her goal was to have the cast play specific parts for the first act of the play, go to intermission, and then repeat the same act — but with the gender of most characters having been switched. The genders of the characters who played the pharisees and accusers were the most pronounced changes between the acts.
Meghan Bortle, Delton first-year, was one of the students in attendance for the opening night of the performance. While Bortle enjoyed the production and stated her plans on attending again the following night, she didn’t see the stereotypes being displayed as clearly as Thomson may have been aiming for.
“I thought it was hot when the prostitutes were making out with each other,” Bortle said. “It was a very interesting experiment, but I didn’t really see a gender stereotype. I guess I can see that there was one there, but I didn’t take anything like that away.”
An actor from the repeated (i.e., second) act, Ryan Fisher, Albion junior, seemed to see the issue of gender stereotypes from a similar perspective of Thomson.
“We’re able to see the different aspects of even a gendered actor in plain sight react to that,” Fisher said. “With gender stereotypes, even just the role of the adulterer being switched really, to me, affected the show a whole lot. This show really helped me with opening my eyes to how gender stereotypes really work.”
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; AnonMoos