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‘Madwoman’ teaches thespians to stretch their muscles
A 70-year-old play that pits outcasts against fat cats will be presented by Vashon High School students this weekend.
“The Madwoman of Challiot,” written in 1943 by French playwright Jean Giraudoux during the Nazi occupation of Paris, has themes that come straight out of today’s headline news — corporations wrecking havoc on the environment, greed and corruption in financial institutions, the disparity between the wealthy and the poor and the eagerness of some to employ violence and destruction to get what they want.
But according to the students who are in the show, “The Madwoman of Challiot” is also a madcap comedy that is brimming with laughs.
“Being the Madwoman has definitely put me in touch with my crazy side,” said junior Kaydi Rosser, who plays the show’s title role.
The plot of the play revolves around the efforts of Rosser’s character to thwart the plans of corporate bigwigs who have discovered an underground reservoir of oil beneath a small café in Paris. Banding together with a ragtag group of artists, street performers and peddlers, the Madwoman hatches a scheme to drive the businessmen away.
According to sophomore theater student Malaika Caldwell, the play is full of twists, turns and surprises.
“There’s never a dull moment,” she said.
Director and drama teacher Stephen Floyd, who has been working with students on the play since school started in the fall, said that he’s had a lot of help in bringing the production to the stage.
He credits two students in the class, junior Anna Rose Warren and Maggie Amundsen, with helping him stage the play, work with the actors and organize a multitude of backstage details.
“The two assistant directors have been a valuable asset,” said Floyd. “It’s been great to see students take on more responsibility for all aspects of the show this year, from poster design and publicity, to set painting and costuming and even choreographing a dance.”
Floyd said the play is an excellent fit for the particular talents and makeup of his theater class.
“I’ve had ‘The Madwoman of Chaillot’ on my list of potential plays for a number of years due to its large cast,” said Floyd, who went on to explain some of the reasons he decided to stage the play this year.
“This play has a lot of strong female characters,” he said. “It’s also a big change from the sorts of plays we have done at the high school over the past few years. Students can repeat this class for credit multiple times, so I try to select plays that allow students to explore different styles of acting and exercise different creative muscles, stretching their experiences and their capabilities.”
“The Madwoman of Challiot” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 18 to 20, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21, at Vashon High School Theater. Admission is $5 for all performances, and the play is suitable for all ages.