In a theater season dominated by color blind casting controversies, The Reluctant Lesbian, premiering at the 2012 New York International Fringe Festival and produced by Vox Theater, has embraced the challenges that race can create in developing new plays.
Set in London in the early 1960’s, The Reluctant Lesbian tells the story of Sophia, a young African-American woman, who moves to England after the death of her wealthy parents leaving behind a disappointed fiancé. Sophia befriends Lady Graves, a sophisticated American woman married to an influential Member of Parliament. As their friendship deepens and becomes more complicated, Sophia must decide where her future lies and with whom. Inspired by the writings of Doris Lessing and Elaine Dundy, The Reluctant Lesbian explores gender, race and sexuality on the brink of the patriarchal establishment’s decline.
“I did not set out to write a play about race in the 1960s, and the play wasn’t written for a black actress, but our actress’ work during the play’s development at Dartmouth was so excellent that it made more sense to rewrite the play to fit her, than to pretend that her race didn’t matter in that time period. Instead it created new and dramaturgically exciting problems for us to solve within the play,” said playwright Kate Mulley.
After the initial workshop, the creative team decided that race would be a key tool for the audience to examine the prevalent prejudices, spoken and unspoken, during the time period. The play deftly navigates both, while also exploring the transformative power that love has on four distinct individuals. Mandi Masden will perform the role of Sophia in New York.
“What’s exciting about developing new work with actors is watching what they bring to the piece and seeing how that informs the play. This kind of collaborative process is exactly why we founded the company,” said director Thom Pasculli.
The Reluctant Lesbian features Matthew Cohn*, Jack L. Davis*, Amanda Jones* and Mandi Masden*. Performances are at the Cherry Lane Studio (38 Commerce Street) on Friday August 10 at 9pm, Wednesday August 15 at 6:30pm, Friday August 17 at 4:00pm,
Saturday August 18 at 12:30pm and Sunday August 19 at noon.
VOX Theater was created in 2012 as an ensemble dedicated to making new work and facilitating exchange among Dartmouth artists. Our mission is to provide for our ensemble a home base rich enough in resources and familiarity to foster new growth and to provoke bold innovation within our field.