The Blair Academy Players presented Trifles on May 5, 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. in Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts’ Wean Theatre. Written by Susan Glaspell, this delightful 40-minute play explores themes of isolation, the justness of law and order, and early feminism. Director Sonia Hanson chose the play for its subtleness in exploring gender relationships and the justice system, and the play is frequently anthologized in American literature textbooks.
Written during the first-wave feminist movement, the play contrasts the expected role of women in public and in private, as well as how they perform in front of other women versus how they perform in front of men. Ms. Hanson explained that Trifles is a simple story of an investigation into the murder of a husband, and the lead suspect is his wife. The characters slowly reveal the complex power relationships between men and women, as the men actively look for evidence and the women patiently wait for their return. The production also explores societal attitudes toward women by considering them to be inherently innocent and incapable of strong or violent acts.
“The idea of female naivety is directly contrasted by the two female leads who are able to find enough evidence of abuse that they are forced to challenge their own views of what is considered a crime,” Ms. Hanson said. “This play asks us to consider how this investigation is handled by the law enforcement characters, and many lines in the script indicate practices that are still in use today.”
Ms. Hanson noted that this production had challenged cast members to think about deep social issues, and they rose to the occasion. Not only have students brought intellect to their characters, but also a feeling of brightness to allow for some really laughable moments. She hopes the audience comes with their minds open to consider the ideas of this play, and that it gets people thinking long after they’ve left the theatre.
Despite pandemic constraints, participating in the production has allowed students to bond in new ways. The cast had overcome members being quarantined, social distancing and acting with masks on. This “eye acting” and body language, according to Ms. Hanson, has come a long way in a short amount of time.
“The two female characters are women older than the actors who are playing those roles, so they needed to give their lines the weight of experiences they haven’t had yet. Three of our cast members are playing men, which they don’t identify as, so they’ve worked on finding a slightly fuller chest voice and observed how to hold their bodies,” she said.
Nicola Kirkwood ’22, who played Mrs. Hale, highlighted the challenges that came with preparing this production. The rehearsal process started slowly as students adjusted to performing again, and the cast was challenged with heavy subject material and a wordy script.
“There were also some very awkward moments in the show, for both the actors and the audience,” Nicola said. “This show took place in a time when society treated women much differently, so some uncomfortable remarks or suggestions are made, but the cast does a great job of addressing women's history and showing how much we've changed since then.”
Despite these challenges, the cast has worked hard to create an unforgettable experience for the audience. Nicola hopes attendees walk away with the knowledge to not underestimate a person based on a societal stereotype.
The cast of Trifles:
George Henderson, County Attorney - Ava Satasi ’23
Henry Peters, Sheriff - Emily Wang ’23
Lewis Hale, a neighborhood farmer - Kayleah Strunk ’23
Mrs. Peters - Alex Schamberger ’22
Mrs. Hale - Nicola Kirkwood ’22
Student Director - Arjun Chopra ’21