Glass Mind Theatre Plays with Miss Manners in RSVP, Now thru 6/15
Time travel might not be first thing that comes to mind when people think of manners; usually it's more like which fork to use when. But, in Glass Mind's production of RSVP, based on Emily Post's Etiquette, you can expect that combination. Director Ann Turiano, who is also leading the cast in the devising process, uses time travel to go back and forth between 1922 and 2014 to look at different ideas of acceptable behavior in the two different eras.
"All of the rules of 1922 sound so absurd to us now," Turiano says "but there are undeniable modern parallels." GMT playfully explores and satirizes the way we "should" act and how that balances with what we want. Expect a night full of laughter and frivolity.
Post - better known as "Miss Manners" - was born into Baltimore high society as Emily Price, and later moved with her family to New York where she was married at age 20. Post sought divorce in 1905 after her husband's extramarital affairs, and because of divorce's taboo nature at the time, the woman who later became known for her properness, was at the center of a scandal. She became the primary source of financial support for her two children with her writing, and penned Etiquette in 1922, which sold over a million copies by 1930. "Etiquette must, if it is to be of more than trifling use, include ethics as well as manners," Post wrote. "Certainly what one is, is of far greater importance than what one appears to be."
Turiano ensures that the show is not simply a display of Post's rules and looks forward to plenty of rules, and hints at the show's direction: "I've been shocked by how dark our tea parties have become."
The time traveling device allows for freedom in cultural references and comparisons. Post used archetypal characters - such as the Neglected Wife - to make her points. "The topical references are there to make connections for our modern audiences, and to push our tongues just a little further in cheek," Turiano says. "Just like Emily had Mrs. Worldly and Ms. Younger in her consciousness, we have Miley Cyrus."
While the peak of propriety, there is a certain weirdness about Post; her book includes long rants, and odd metaphors that underscore Turiano's interpretation. Despite having been published in 1922, "Etiquette speaks to some very human ideas: signals in our relationships, how we express ourselves with language, how we learn to fit in," she said. Turiano asked a lot of questions when first delving into RSVP. "What lurks underneath manners? What motivates us to use them? and what happens if we abandon them altogether?"
RSVP is the final production in Glass Mind's Season 4: NATIONAL BOHEMIA, where the company takes a look at individual and group identity versus society. The company will have some exciting announcements on Opening Night, including their Season 5 theme.
RSVP runs today, June 6 - 15 at Area 405 at 405 East Oliver Street. Tickets are available for $15, with discounts available for artists, students, seniors and groups. Visit www.glassmindtheatre.com for tickets and more information, and contact email@example.com for group sales for groups of five or more.
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