‘The Revolutionists’ Takes the Stage, Feb. 24

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

Emily K. Harrison is preparing Sewanee for The Revolution — Marie Antionette style.

Harrison, who is an artist, educator, and producer of theater based in Boulder, Colorado, currently serves as a visiting professor of theater at the University.

For her latest production, Harrison wanted to focus on the role of women in theater, and that led her to “The Revolutionists.”

“The four-person cast is all female — all of the roles are fantastic — and the play focuses largely on the power of story, on what we, as artists, can do to shift the narrative and to tell the stories that desperately need to be told in order to get to the heart of what matters most in the world. My hope is that the women in the cast, who are playing characters based on real women from history, are able to share this remarkable and tender story to sold out houses for the five performances we have, and that our audiences will be receptive to the themes and ideas in the play,” Harrison said.

“The Revolutionists” takes place during the Reign of Terror, which occurred at the height of the French Revolution, just as the Haitian Revolution was taking place a world away. In two acts spanning 100 minutes, historical female figures lend inspiration to the retelling of a story about violence, art, feminism, activism, chosen sisters, the legacy they left behind and how one might actually go about changing the world.

“The play is mostly a comedy and is based on very real women. Three of the characters share the names of their real-life inspirations: the playwright Olympe de Gouges, deposed queen Marie Antoinette and assassin Charlotte Corday. Marianne Angelle, the spy, is a composite character based on women who were integral to the success of the Haitian Revolution, women such as Cécile Fatiman, Sanité Bélair and Marie-Jeanne Lamartinière whose stories were not as well documented as their white counterparts,” Harrison said.

Playing Olympe de Gouges is freshman Emme Hendrix alongside freshman Emi Grace Oaks as Marie Antoinette. Seniors Taela Bland, playing Marianne Angelle, and Mary Emily Morris, playing Charlotte Corday, round out the four-person cast.

Harrison added that the quartet has become a close team of actors as they’ve endeavored to tell a story set years in the past and also with a finger on the pulse of today.

“The play feels incredibly relevant, especially considering the events at our own capital just last year, and the ways in which different factions invent and twist facets of the narrative in order to suit their own, varied agendas. It has become increasingly difficult in our own country to discern misinformation from fact, which makes for a reality that at times feels very tenuous,” Harrison said. “The legions of people who are willing to unquestioningly believe whatever version of the story brings them comfort without making any effort to seek out alternative perspectives is both terrifying and dangerous. Similarly to the time in history represented in the play, we are at a turning-point — one that could easily turn increasingly violent as misinformation continues to spread like wildfire. The play also speaks to the desire so many of us in the artist community have to reflect on our own experience of living in this tumultuous time — to make work that challenges dominant narratives and speaks to both the beauty and horror of what it means to be a human being in the world.”

The play will be performed at 7:30 p.m.,Thursday, Feb. 24 through Saturday, Feb. 26, and at 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 26 and Sunday, Feb. 27, at the Proctor Hill Theatre. For more information about the show or to reserve free tickets to the performances, visit <https://www.eventbrite.com/e/t...;.

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