IU Theatre commences its 2020-2021 main stage season with BONNETS: (How Ladies of Good Breeding are Induced to Murder) by Jen Silverman. BONNETS is one of several works commissioned by The Big Ten Theatre Consortium whose purpose is to promote the writing and production of new works by and about women by professional and academic theatres across the country. The play communicates the ways in which women are subdued by the greater structures of society across three distinct moments in time: early colonial America, 17th century France and 19th century England. Valerie is a poisoner, her sister-in-law Claire is a virgin, Webster is an indentured servant, her mistress Georgina is oblivious, and Prudence and Fortitude have a tendency to let their repressed Puritan imaginations get the best of them…some might even call it witchcraft! Silverman creates a space for feminine rage and repression to be unabashedly expressed through biting social commentary that is undercut by a punk-rock musical score composed by Max Vernon.
According to an interview with Playwright’s Center, Silverman describes her own notion of success: “[Success is] not writing the play you think someone wants to read. I want to write aggressive, highly-structured, darkly comedic plays, often involving women or queer characters, often exploring various facets of identity and legacy and home-coming and institutional violence”. BONNETS is a work that combines Silverman’s collective interests as expressed above, and articulates them in a powerful potion of camp, comedy and protest meant to illuminate social injustice against women (with specific consideration for the experience of BIPOC and queer individuals in this production) across time, space, and history.
Jamie Anderson, second-year M.F.A directing candidate, directs IU’s production. Joining Jamie on the creative team is undergraduate Grace Leckey (Music Director) and M.F.A students Jordan Flores Schwartz (Dramaturg), Rachel Burke (Scenic Designer), Lee Anne Meeks (Lighting Designer), Ben Ramos (Technical Director), and Erin Barnett (Costume Designer). Erin’s design for this production is in partial fulfillment of her M.F.A. thesis in Costume Design.