“Yes, but I wouldn’t do it, you understand. That’s the difference between us.”
“Because you’re a man and I’m a woman? What difference does that make?”
“Just the difference that there is- between a man and a woman.”
Tabula Rasa’s and UCYA’s first show of their Spring 2020 Backlit season is getting ready to open, and what an opening it is. “Miss Julie,” written by August Strindberg and directed by Chloe Jewell, is “a play of the struggles of life roles, meaning the idea of a woman’s place and a man’s.” The story follows character Miss Julie, played by Fiona Ross, in the midst of political and patriarchal turbulence with her father and family valet Jean, played by Josh Ramsdell. It was originally set in the 1800s and was written as a naturalist play that explored Charles Darwin’s idea of “survival of the fittest.” Will the woman be able to overcome the obstacles and stand her ground against society’s standards, or will the ‘inevitable’ odds of humiliation and defeat be just that? And, how does the seemingly charming and flirtatious Jean fit into it all?
Unlike the original time period, Jewell took Strindberg’s concept and moved it to center on modern day politics directly following Miss Julie’s failed campaign at running for President of the United States with Jean as her campaign manager and her father as the winning opponent. She based this decision on Strindberg’s commentary of him “depicting his characters as more unstable, as torn and divided.” She believes this statement “speaks volumes about the parties today, with democrats and republicans slandering each other left and right. Miss Julie thinks she could be the one to unite the parties as she runs for President. She challenges the way we perceive how men and women can thrive in society.”
Ross, portraying Miss Julie, described the show as “excitement,” “joy,” and “anxiety.” She stated the show “first and foremost, is a testament to the unfair expectations we place on women and the stress this puts on them. Stemming from the crushing weight of those expectations is the reality of mental illness and how we further stigmatize women who experience that. Our [Tabula Rasa x UCYA] production also hones in on the dichotomy between the media’s portrayal of women in politics and how that impacts women’s lives.”
Even with heavy themes, Ross described her time in this production as “an absolute joy” with her favorite part having been working with her production crew and cast members. She gave praise to Jewell and said, “Chloe is an amazing director who has given us such freedom while providing a beautiful understanding of the characters’ complicated lives. We’ve been able to balance having so much fun as a cast and still handling difficult topics in a great way that has been the production so healthy and enjoyable.”
Come see this phenomenal cast take on this classically re-envisioned piece this Friday and Saturday, March 6th and 7th, at the Springfield Little Theatre Education Center located at 237 S. Florence Ave. Springfield, Missouri, 65806. All performances are free and begin at 7:30pm. Click the hyperlink to be taken the Facebook event page.