I’m so glad you decided to tell people about yourself and the current Homestead production. What is your name and what exactly do you do for Blue Stockings?
Hi! My name is Renee Schwarz and I play Celia Willbond. She is one of the four main girls and is known for her cynical and prude demeanor. I love playing this character because she has a very interesting backstory and is also very different from who I am as a person.
With the other productions this year, I knew a little about them, Three Musketeers, Shrek, those are known. What is Blue Stockings about and why should people come see it?
Blue Stockings is a play written by Jessica Swale that follows the journey of four young women and Mrs. Welsh as they try to get the right to graduate from college in England in the 1890s. It is really interesting and heartbreaking as we follow the girls deciding on whether to choose love over knowledge, essentially risking their life and family just to get an education. I think people will also find that these characters are really relatable as we have developed the different dynamics between the group of women and the group of men; making it even more shocking when we find out women get the right to graduate.
All art comments on something aligns itself with current issues. How does this work comment on current social or political issues and how has it influenced you this Spring?
This play comments on the sexism in the education in the school system in the 1890s. But this sexism didn’t just prevail during this time, it has happened throughout history and is still occurring today. Today, more than 130 million girls are unable to get access to a proper education, limiting their life skills, and consequently, rewarding more privileged men with jobs in the workforce. To combat this, we decided to fundraise for the Malala Fund (who the play was dedicated to) so we can give girls the same opportunities and experiences as boys in school.
I’ve heard there is a lot of science in this script, is that challenging? What else is challenging about bringing this script to life?
The science for me was challenging at first because Celia talks about the precession of the perihelion with the rotation of mercury, which to me sounds like nonsense and I had no idea what the heck it meant. But as we got further into the rehearsal process, I started to do some research on the topic and actually found it to be really interesting. It is really humbling to know that the work that women were doing back then is still relevant and still used today. I am also fortunate enough to be in Physics this trimester (Hey Mr. Patterson!) so it is really cool to be learning about the things they would be learning about too.
Another great (and challenging) thing about this play is that all the actors had to learn how to speak in a believable British accent. It was really difficult at first since there are so many different rules and ways of saying certain words based on your character, but as we continued practicing during rehearsal it became a lot easier to pick up.
Without giving anything away, what’s your favorite line of dialogue?
“We’re not passengers. People like us don’t get buffeted by the wind, we change its course”. I think is a really inspiring line and really fits with the message that we are trying to get across and that women are strong, independent and fierce and can do anything they set their mind to.
What do you hope the audience will be thinking about in the car as they drive home after this show?
I hope they are thinking about how this issue didn’t just disappear in 1948, and that it is still happening all around the world. I hope it will remind people to appreciate the women in their lives and all the women that came before us to get us to where we are today.
This play is about going to college, what are your plans after graduating Homestead? Where do you think your path will lead you?
This is my final show at Homestead, so I am really sad to leave the family that I have created these past two years. Homestead Drama Club will always hold a special place in my heart and I have many people to thank for that. I will be continuing my passion in theatre at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities where I will major in Theatre Arts. I am hopeful that can make this passion into a career and I hope that this path will lead me to create wonderful and impactful art, just as I have done throughout my high school career.