Promethean Theatre Ensemble will open its new season with the Chicago premiere of BLUE STOCKINGS – a drama of the first female students to seek degrees at Britain’s Cambridge University in 1896 and the obstacles they faced in that pursuit. BLUE STOCKINGS was the first play written by Jessica Swale, author of NELL GWYNN, which was seen in 2018 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Charles Spencer of London’s THE GUARDIAN, in reviewing the world premiere of BLUE STOCKINGS at London’s Globe Theatre, said “Jessica Swale tells the story with both wit and a hint of righteous indignation.” BLUE STOCKINGS will be directed for Promethean by Spenser Davis, a 2017 Jeff Award winner for his direction of AT THE TABLE by Broken Nose Theatre, where he is Director of Programming. BLUE STOCKINGS will be performed at The Den Theatre from September 13 – October 13, 2019.
Though Cambridge University’s Girton College was founded in 1869 specifically to serve female students, education of women was still discouraged in British society and young women who wished to pursue higher education were warned that they would be diminishing their prospects for marriage and social status. The academic success of some of the female students at Girton in spite of that discouragement led to a campaign in 1896-97 to allow women to be awarded degrees from Cambridge University. BLUE STOCKINGS tells the story of this campaign through the eyes of the four female students who would have been the first to receive those degrees, in a drama that is romantic, witty and enlightening.
Playing the four students at the center of the campaign will be Heather Kae Smith* (seen this past Spring as Bosie in Promethean’s GROSS INDECENCY), Julia Rowley (of The Factory’s MAY THE ROAD RISE UP), Elise Marie Davis (of Broken Nose Theatre’s THE GIRL IN THE RED CORNER) and Imani Lyvette. Girton College Headmistress Elizabeth Welsh will be played by Jamie Bragg* (seen recently as Oscar Wilde in GROSS INDECENCY). Their teachers and chief allies, Mr. Banks and Miss Blake, will be played by Patrick Blashill (of MAY THE ROAD RISE UP) and Cameron Feagin* (of GROSS INDECENCY).
Kevin Sheehan* (of GROSS INDECENCY) has been cast as Ralph, love interest to Smith’s character Tess, and Martin Diaz-Valdes (of City Lit’s ARMS AND THE MAN) will play Will, a friend of Tess. Jared Dennis* (GROSS INDECENCY) is Dr. Maudsley, a psychiatrist and visiting lecturer who opposes the drive to award degrees to women.
Also in the cast are Joshua Servantez (Holmes/Anderson), Vijay Sarathi (Lloyd/Billy Sullivan), Meghann Tabor* (Minnie), Anne Lentino* (Miss Bott/Mrs. Lindley), and Revon Yousif (Edwards/Waiter). The design team will include Jeff Award winner Rachel Sypniewski (Costume Designer), Therese Ritchie (Set Designer), Claire Sangster (Lighting Designer), Devon Green (Props Designer), and Tony Ingram (Sound Designer). Angela Forshee will be Assistant Director and Alexa Berkowitz* will be Stage Manager.
(* indicates Promethean Ensemble member). BIOS
Jessica Swale (Playwright) is an Olivier award winning playwright, screenwriter and director. As playwright, Jessica’s first play BLUE STOCKINGS (Shakespeare’s Globe) won her an Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright nomination. NELL GWYNN (Shakespeare’s Globe) transferred to the West End starring Gemma Arterton and won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. Jessica is adapting NELL GWYNN as a feature film with Working Title, alongside original films for Studio Canal and Fox Searchlight, and has written the HORRIBLE HISTORIES movie for Altitude. She's currently in post-production for her first feature, SUMMERLAND, which she has written and directed, also starring Arterton. Her other plays includes ALL'S WILL THAT ENDS WILL (Bremen Shakespeare Company), THOMAS TALLIS (Wanamaker Playhouse), adaptations of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (Watermill), THE SECRET GARDEN, STIG OF THE DUMP (Grosvenor Park, Chester), THE JUNGLE BOOK (UK Tour) and her new play THE MISSION, about secret adoptions in the 1920s. Jessica is an Associate Artist with NGO Youth Bridge Global, author of a best-selling series of drama games books and she is also involved in Times Up UK, actively campaigning for greater equality and diversity across theatre and film.
Spenser Davis (Director) is a director, playwright, and filmmaker currently based in Chicago, where he serves as Director of Programming for Broken Nose Theatre and an ensemble member of The Factory Theater. Previous directing credits include AT THE TABLE (Jeff Awards for Best Director, Production, and Ensemble), PLAINCLOTHES (Jeff Award for Best Ensemble), A PHASE, and FROM WHITE PLAINS (Broken Nose Theatre); MAY THE ROAD RISE UP and ADVENTURES OF SPIRIT FORCE FIVE (The Factory); EVERY OTHER TUESDAY (Steppenwolf 1700); BACHELORETTE (Level 11); EXTRAORDINARY (Otherworld); numerous editions of the One Minute Play Festival; as well as readings, workshops, and festivals with American Blues Theatre, ATC, Strawdog, Mary-Arrchie, First Floor Theater and Pride Films and Plays, to name a few. Assistant directing credits include PILGRIM'S PROGRESS and 3C (A Red Orchid Theatre), as well as THE DIVINE SISTER (Hell in a Handbag), all with Shade Murray. As a playwright, his second play PLAINCLOTHES had its critically acclaimed World Premiere at Broken Nose Theatre, received the 2019 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award from the American Theatre Critics Association, and was named a finalist for the 2019 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award. He is currently adapting his first play MERGE as a pilot for television. He is a series writer-director on SQUID, a short-form comedy series on Amazon Prime. He is grateful to be represented by the good folks over at William Morris Endeavor.
by Jessica Swale
directed by Spenser Davis
September 13 - October 13, 2019
Press Opening: Monday, September 16 @ 7:30pm
Previews Friday and Saturday September 13 & 14 @ 7:30pm and Sunday September 15 @ 3:00pm
Performances Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 3:00pm through Sunday October 13, plus industry night Monday September 30 at 7:30pm
Tickets $30 general admission, $25 seniors, $15 students/military.
Tickets available at The Den Box Office www.thedentheatre.com or call 773-697-3830
More information at www.prometheantheatre.org
The Den Theatre, 1331 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
A moving, comical and eye-opening story of four young women fighting for education and self-determination against the larger backdrop of women's suffrage. Cambridge 1896, and Girton College, home to the country's first female students, is an object of annoyance and derision to the rest of the university. The year's intake of new women face economic difficulty, the distractions of men and radical politics, and the jaw-dropping prejudice that blights every aspect of academic life. Meanwhile, there looms the prospect of a controversial vote to decide if these 'blue stockings' should be allowed to graduate. The first full-length play by NELL GWYNN scribe Jessica Swale.
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