By Megan Tackett
Sopris Sun Staff
Often, audiences attending the theater look forward to an opportunity to suspend disbelief.
That said, audiences at Sopris Theatre Company’s upcoming production of “Uncommon Women and Others,” directed by Colorado Mountain College’s Brad Moore, may find the narrative all too real.
The 1977 play is an ensemble piece — 10 women comprise the cast — that is largely character driven. It opens with a reunion scene of former college housemates at North Stimson Hall of the prestigious Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. It’s been six years since the characters have seen one another, and author Wendy Wasserstein’s storytelling vehicle of choice is flashbacks to the women’s days on campus.
“It’s a wonderful show. There’s not a real heavy plot, but there are a lot of really wonderful relationships and characters to develop, so that’s what this work is all about,” Moore said.
That character development intertwines both interpersonal and sociological quandaries. On the one hand, the college-aged girls depicted in the flashback scenes are students at the elite first Seven Sisters member college at the height of the second-wave feminism movement. On the other, they are also college-aged girls trying to maneuver female friendships — a challenging journey regardless of societal status.
“What we didn’t anticipate in choosing this show was how important it is for right now, with everything that’s going on politically and socially around the world,” Moore said, though he added that it isn’t the company’s intention to preach a message. “We’re just doing a show. We’re letting the audience — as I think any good theater does anyway — we’re letting the audience take from this piece what they will.”
The script doesn’t preach, either. It’s simultaneously witty and complex as it explores the world through the lens of a group of friends.
“I think what’s so great about this play is it paints that struggle really well without speaking to it too directly. It just goes through the lives of these women: this is who they are, and these are the questions they’re asking,” Christina Cappelli, a CMC graduate who plays Leilah, said. “And I think every person that I know, every woman, has asked those questions and been in that place.”
That level of honesty in relationships has permeated off set, as well. The cast includes current CMC students, graduates, community members and even CMC Vice President and Academic Dean Heather Exby as Mrs. Plumm, housemother at North Stimson Hall. “To be able to work with [the actors] this way is really special — and to allow the college to see me this way as well,” Exby said of her new role. “It’s been a really wonderful experience.”
Many of the actors acknowledged the friendships and teamwork that have made this show’s rehearsal process particularly memorable. “I find this to be the most incredible group of female power and strength and just love,” said CMC student Ciara Morrison, who plays the aptly named Susie Friend. “It’s not a big sappy rehearsal — we’re getting work done — but we all know we’re sitting next to some of the best friends and most supportive people.”
Rita, a larger-than-life aspiring novelist played by Suzie Brady, declares in one of the show’s flashbacks that by the time the crew is 30 (she offers a five-year period for emotional development), they will all be incredible. In the opening reunion scene, she amends that to 40. “By the time we’re 40, we can be pretty amazing.” Notably, 2017 marks the play’s 40th anniversary.
What: Uncommon Women and Others
When: Dec. 1-2 and 7-9 at 7 p.m.,
Dec. 3 and 10 at 2 p.m.
Where: New Space Theatre, Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley
How Much: $18 for adults and $13 for students, seniors and CMC employees
More info: coloradomtn.edu/theater (click on Sopris Theatre Company)
A visual take on performance art
In its first public exhibit since reopening after renovations, Morgridge Commons will be showcasing “Decade of Design & Drama,” an exhibit featuring odes to Sopris Theatre Company’s past and present works. Fittingly, the exhibit kickoff will take place via reception at the CMC ArtShare Gallery in the Commons from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3 — immediately following that day’s 2 p.m. matinee of STC’s “Uncommon Women and Others.”
“It celebrates the partnership between Sopris Theater and the Isaacson Design School,” said CMC Foundation Director Kendra Rhodes of the 21-poster exhibit while noting the opportunity it created for students to add professionally published pieces to their portfolios. “It’s a competitive, multi-stage process where [designers] present and refine their concepts. And they receive feedback from the client, which is the theater,” she said. “They go through this real-world experience.”