April 27, 2012
Theater production challenges gender definitions
"This was a chance to present a play that not only has a lot of history surrounding it, but that is a rare example of an old play written by a woman," Andes said, adding that Hamilton wrote the play at the beginning of the twentieth century in 1908.
"Diana of Dobson's" tells the story of Diana Massingberd, a young penniless shop girl living in England at the turn of the twentieth century, who challenges the gender definitions that have plagued society her entire life after she comes into 300 shillings from a distant cousin she knew nothing about.
"Diana is very sarcastic and very opinionated," senior Sarah Kirk, Diana's portrayer, said about her character, whom has grown up her entire life being independent and very strong-willed.
Using her shillings, Diana travels to such places as Paris, France and Switzerland, where she buys beautiful dresses and boots and lives a luxurious life, at least for a month, "doing what I choose and not what I am forced to do."
Along the way Diana encounters Captain Victor Bretherton and his aunt Mrs. Cantelupe, members of the high society who couldn't be more different than Diana.
"Victor was born into the upperclass and really never made anything of himself but just lives very luxuriously and lives off of whoever is willing to pay his debt," senior Ross Griffin said about the character he portrays.
Throughout the play it is clear that Victor's aunt has very different plans in mind for him.
"Mrs. Cantelupe is an old upperclass woman who is very old fashioned and much more strict than what the present is," senior Jamie Weist, Cantelupe's portrayer, states. "She is rich and powerful and loves to control the people and is very manipulative," she adds.
Throughout the show Mrs. Cantelupe works to figure out whom exactly Diana Massingberd is and if she is well off enough to take care of her favorite nephew.
"It's not necessarily the crowd pleaser but it has a lot underneath it that makes you think," Griffin said about the show.
Weist agrees, adding that, "it's about marriage and the definition of marriage and how that has changed."
"We put a lot of emphasis on the class issue throughout the play while trying to deemphasize the romance part," director Andes said, adding that, "while you still get romance it focusses a lot more on the class structure."
Senior Anna Thieben, who plays Mrs. Pringle, one of the heads of the Dobson's shop, agrees saying that, "it brings a very impassioned war against the class system."
Andes also noted that, "It's a play that has been lost for generations but in the last ten years or so the playwright and the play have been alive again in the theater community and people are paying more attention to it recently."
"The show has a lot to say and I hope it gets people thinking," Kirk said.
Diana of Dobson's will play in the Degenstein Theater Fri., April 27 at 8p.m., Saturday, April 28 at 2:30 and 8p.m. and Sunday, April 29 at 8p.m.
Tickets are available at the university box office and are free for Susquehanna students and staff and cost $8 for non-Susquehanna students and $10 for adults.
The box office is open Monday through Friday from noon to 5p.m.
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