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‘Fefu and Her Friends’ kicks off UNT theater season

‘Fefu and Her Friends’ kicks off UNT theater season

courtesy UNT

‘Fefu and Her Friends’ kicks off UNT theater season
October 02
10:32 2015

Mary Murphy | Contributing Writer

The audience waits quietly for the play to begin. The lights in the theatre are brought up. Onstage sit three women. After a few moments, one of their voices breaks the silence.

“My husband married me to have a constant reminder of how loathsome women are.”

This is the first line spoken by Fefu in “Fefu and Her Friends,” the surrealistic play kicking off the UNT Department of Dance and Theatre’s 2015-2016 season next Thursday evening.

“Fefu and Her Friends” is one of playwright Maria Irene Fornés’ most popular plays. She wrote it in 1977, during the midst of second-wave feminism.

“When it premiered, it resonated culturally and socially because it addressed the complexities of gender and complexities of the internal struggle reconciling the internal landscape of a human being, of a woman specifically, with the external pressures and expectations,” said Sally Vahle, the director of “Fefu and Her Friends.”

Fefu and her seven friends meet at Fefu’s house in New England during 1935 to rehearse a presentation for their education charity. There is no continuous plot, but during their time together, the eight educated women discuss problems in their personal lives and in society that they face solely because they are female.

“I can’t speak specifically to any group in New England, but women kind of sat back and took a breath after they got the right to vote [in 1920],” said the Director of Women’s and Gender Studies, Sandra Spencer, Ph.D.

According to Spencer, the women’s movement did not gain public attention again until “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Freidan was published in the early 1960s.

“There’s this hole in history where there’s not really a title or a name for [the women’s movement],” said Tori Windham, drama senior who plays Fefu. “So Fefu and her friends are really having to fight for who they are.”

The opening line grants a glimpse into the inner turmoil the women in the play wrestle with. They must grapple with the inequality around them while also fighting a private, personal battle about what society teaches versus what they believe.

“The conversations these women are having are not mutually exclusive to 1935, Vahle said. “The topics of conversation, as well as the way [these women] speak about them and the language they use, is inherently contemporary. I think many people in the audience, men and women, will recognize, ‘Huh, this isn’t just 1935 – I just had a conversation with someone about this two weeks ago!’”

Windham said the performance will also include a gorgeous set, beautiful dresses, gunshots, and water onstage. Because of this shows’ surrealistic nature, the fourth wall will be broken, and lighting and sound will be used to create different ‘rooms’ while multiple actresses are on stage together.

“Fefu and Her Friends” will run October 1-4. Tickets are available at the Dance and Theatre Box Office, located in the lobby of the RTFP building.

Featured Image: Courtesy | UNT

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