We have new perform to the HHS stage, a senior. He thought he’d try out acting before he graduated. So, what is your name and who do you play?
My name is Will “Shaquille O’Neal” Slawson, and I play Will Bennett in this play.
This play is about going to college, what are your plans after graduating Homestead? Where do you think your path will lead you?
Oh, yikes. The classic adult-to-teenager question. I’m currently preparing to attend the University of Iowa to study literature and writing. I’ve spent more of my life reading plays than actually participating, but I think this experience has added a new layer of appreciation for not only those who perform in general but artists in areas that I’m unfamiliar with. Sure, writing is hard, my Advanced Creative Writing classmates have probably heard me say that a million times, but this play has taught me that staging a theatrical production is no cakewalk either. Art takes devotion and passion to effectively impact its audience, and branching out with this play has helped me appreciate those who put effort into what they love.
Why should we come see Blue Stockings?
If you haven’t come to see a play at Homestead yet this year or any year, this is the one to go to. Not just because I’m in it, but also because it takes Homestead’s humble theatre department and turns it into a new direction. Whereas many of the plays done in the past have been classics and adaptations of well-known works, Blue Stockings is a contemporary piece of historical fiction depicting the fight for women’s education in the late nineteenth century, which, although many steps have been taken in the right direction here in the western world, is still a very prevalent fight in many countries across the Atlantic. This play does not take the easy route in this depiction, however, it deals with more than just suffering the choice of love vs knowledge. It brings quieter issues such as tradition vs progression, tainting reputations, and conformity to the limelight. These issues could be applied to many social issues, not just women’s education. That is, in my opinion, why this play works so well.
I believe this play does well in showing rationales to many points of view on the issue, and even better, doesn’t divide it into a black-and-white good-vs-evil dichotomy. Almost every character in the play has a unique viewpoint on the issue, and the audience gets to hear and consider each one. That’s something the world today needs more of on social issues. No one wants to listen to each other or validate one another, we instead get defensive when someone else’s beliefs don’t line up with our own. I think this play demonstrates this conflict very effectively at that.
What is challenging about bringing this script to life?
I think the true difficulty of this play comes in that it’s not inherently poetic or beautiful, so we as members of the production can’t use that to our advantage to put on a good show. Instead, this play must rely a lot on delivery and interpretation of the characters and events. This isn’t a play to read off the page in AP Lit and analyze the script. The power of this play comes with the production, and that puts a lot more stress on us as cast and crew.
Without giving anything away, what’s your favorite line of dialogue?
I think “Bugger off, Edwards,” is a classic, but I don’t get to say that one. That being said, my favorite line of personal dialogue is undoubtedly the deeply symbolic and beautiful “What did you do for Christmas lunch?”
What do you hope the audience will be thinking about in the car as they drive home after this show?
Besides how talented the kid playing Will is and how he should receive a Tony award and Nobel Peace Prize, I want the audience to be thinking about how the depths to which they go for things they are passionate about in their own lives. And when barriers arise to block them from attaining their goals, how do they react? Even further, what drives them to keep pursuing these aspirations. Is it for reputation? Loyalty to someone else? Or is it something deep within yourself? What means more, contentment with your own achievements or good terms with others? Those are a few, but if the play goes as well as I think it will, I think there will be much more to think about afterward.
Homestead High School presents “Blue Stockings” this coming weekend, April 27 and 28 at 7pm and April 29 at 1pm. Tickets are $7-$8 and sold at the door.
James Barr Performing Art Center
5000 W. Mequon Rd.
Mequon WI 53092