‘Blue Stockings’ opens Nov. 14 at Oakland University

The play follows four young women as they fight for the right to graduate.

The men were firmly planted at Cambridge University until young women arrived. Were they really allowed to be there?

Witness the intellectual excitement of 1896, when gender and love become part of the equation as Oakland University’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance present the play Blue Stockings from Nov. 14 through Nov. 24 at the Varner Studio Theatre in Varner Hall.

Blue Stockings is about the women and men on either side of the debate over a woman’s right to graduate and get a degree at the end of her university studies,” said Karen Sheridan, director, and professor of theatre at Oakland University (OU).

Written by Jessica Swale, the play takes place at Cambridge University in 1896 and follows four young women and their teachers who are fighting for recognized degrees at the end of their studies against the larger backdrop of women’s suffrage.

“When women enter the educational landscape, there is a change in dynamics in the classroom,” Sheridan said. “Some teachers and students think that gender diversity is a good thing. Then there are others. Also, with the opposite sex in the room, the potential distraction can sometimes create new opportunities.”

Dryden Zurawski (standing) and Connor Rajan look over Olive Ferguson’s shoulder in Oakland University’s production of ‘Blue Stockings’ running Nov. 14 through Nov. 24 in the Varner Studio Theatre.
Photo credit: JLBoone Photography.

OU student Olive Ferguson, who plays Tess Moffat, said that the character’s struggles “represent the countless number of trailblazers throughout the women’s rights movement all over the world.”

“In Tess’s world in 1986, young women were expected to be quiet, respectful and obedient,” she said. “Tess doesn’t fit these descriptions in most situations. Tess is brave. She challenges the world around her and advocates for herself and every other young woman at the time.”

Ferguson said that playing Tess in Blue Stockings has changed her perspective on life.

“Tess inspires me to be a better activist in the changing political and social climates,” she said. “She allows me to understand my own privilege in 2019; my privilege of being able to receive an education, to get a college degree, to speak my mind and fight for what I believe in.”

“This play has humor, love, politics — something for everyone,” Sheridan said.

The performances on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. will be shadow-signed for the Deaf by Synergy on Stage.

Unlike other methods of accommodating Deaf viewers, including the use of an off-stage interpreter or captions on a screen above the stage, “shadow signing” allows ASL performers to follow or “shadow” the actors on stage while interpreting, which means the audience can easily pay attention to both the sign language and the actors in the theatre. The interpreters come to rehearsals and are integrated fully in the storytelling.

To learn more about shadow signing, visit the Synergy on Stage website at www.SynergyOnStage.com.

Blue Stockings tickets are $15 for the general public and $8 for students and the 10 a.m. matinee. To purchase tickets, visit ETix.com.

For more information about this and other upcoming productions, contact the School of Music, Theatre and Dance at (248) 370-2030 or smtd@oakland.edu.

Performance Schedule

  • Thursday, Nov. 14 at 8 p.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m.+
  • Thursday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 22 at 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m.+
  • Sunday, Nov. 24 at 2 p.m.

+ Shadow-signed for the Deaf by Synergy on Stage.

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