BLUE STOCKINGS Advocates Women's Right To Higher Education
As Persephone Productions approaches its 20th anniversary, it proudly presents Blue Stockings, written by Olivier Award-winning playwright, theatre director and screenwriter, Jessica Swale. Set in the late Victorian era of 1896 at England's prestigious Cambridge University, Blue Stockings follows the story of four young women fighting for self-determination and the right to receive higher education against the larger backdrop of women's suffrage in Britain.
Cambridge's Girton College is the first to admit women and the Girton girls study ferociously, matching their male peers grade for grade. Yet, when the men graduate with degrees in hand, the women leave with nothing but the stigma of being a 'blue stocking' - an unnatural, educated woman, returning home without a degree, still considered unqualified and now, unmarriageable. Over the course of one tumultuous academic year, Tess Moffat and her naïve fellow first-years, determined to win the right to graduate, face the distractions of love, the cruelty of the class divide, and the ferocity of the opposition that will do anything to stop them in their crusade for equality in education.
Jessica Swale discovered that women as recently as those of her own grandmother's generation were discouraged, and sometimes forbidden, from going to university. Director Gabrielle Soskin was not surprised by that fact, saying, "I and four close friends who immigrated to Canada in the early 70s didn't study for our degrees until many, many years after we had graduated from high school, having never been encouraged to do so when we were younger". The shocking revelation inspired Swale to write the play, her first, which she dedicated it to Malala Yousafzai. Blue Stockings originally premiered to great success at The Globe Theatre in London in 2013. It continues to be produced and is now on the UK's exam syllabus.
The witty play, rich in action and character, has a deep connection with the ongoing contemporary fight for women's rights today. "It's a terrific choice for Persephone", explained Soskin, "because it perfectly reflects our mandate to create professional opportunities for emerging theatre artists through works of literary AND social significance". The production features a large ensemble of 13 actors, all graduates from the various theatre programs in Montreal and beyond.
Talkbacks: Following both Sunday matinées, Oct. 20 & 27, audiences will have an opportunity to enrich the theatre-going experience through a post-show Q&A with the actors and director.