We exist in an age where more and more young ladies are attending university every year. Indeed, the student population of our own university is made up of 58% women. This seems natural, young girls are often considered to be more diligent about their studies, often receiving higher grades. This seems right, natural, doesn’t it?
My paternal grandmother was born in 1924, less than a century ago. However, she could only have dreamed of a university degree. Her path was dictated, she would obtain a job until she found a husband and then live quietly, bringing up the children, supporting her husband in his business interests and ensuring that her son, my father received the highly prized private education over my aunt. This was normal, even in the mid-20th century. Women had to fight if they wanted an education.
Jessica Swane’s Blue Stockings takes us on a journey back to 1896, following some of the first ladies to enter Girton College, Cambridge. The plot takes us through the journey of these four ladies as they learn, love and come to terms with the trials they face. It also sees their fight for equality and the right to receive degrees, for while they were allowed to attend Cambridge, only male students could graduate. A woman would leave degreeless, unwanted and unmarriageable.
Director, Helena Jacques-Morton saw a production of Blue Stockings several years ago at The Globe and felt that the message was extremely powerful and still relevant today, in a world in which women still have to fight for their places in education. Helena recounts that over 60 million women in the world are out of education simply because they are women. Young women in developing nations are forced to stay home from school during their menstrual periods due to a lack of understanding and the assumption that they are “unclean.”
Blue Stockings challenges the assumptions that women are somehow inferior to men, demonstrating that they too can thrive at such a highly acclaimed institution such as Cambridge.
The cast consists of twenty-four actors fulfilling roles from the Girton girls to professors to society ladies. Helena praises all of her cast, particularly those whose roles are only cameos. The effort and dedication they have shown to the production is remarkable.
If such a large cast is not enough, the play is made up of around twenty-two scenes set in a variety of locations, leading to many set changes. The play will be performed on the new Union Stage, an appropriate setting for such an immense production.
Helena urges people to come to see the production, predicting laughter, love, tears and a variety of inner feelings. With such a poignant plot that is sure to portray a powerful message, Blue Stockings is not a play to be missed!
Friday 26th & Saturday 27th February 2016
Stage (The Union)
Tickets (£6) can be bought on the door, or reserved by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org