Audience members frequently expect a theatre performance to be something separate from them. Different eras, emotions and settings keep the stage like a movie: something to watch, not interact with. But for “5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche,” a play showing in Juneau, audience members will be asked to step out of the norm.
“Juneau audiences should expect a play unlike any they have seen before,” said director Heather LaVerne. “At the top of the show, nametags are handed out to each audience member, immediately transporting them into the women’s society represented in the play. They are all treated as members of the society. There is no fourth wall and the cast speaks directly to them at times. But I also want to make sure audiences aren’t scared of the interaction. It will be light and no one is brought up on stage.”
The play is being presented at the Hangar Ballroom by Juneau-Douglas Little Theatre the second and third weekends in April at 7 p.m.
LaVerne initially discovered the play a few years ago while in a theatre group at the University of Alaska Southeast. The group wasn’t able to use the play, but when LaVerne joined the board at JDLT she knew it’d be perfect for it.
“It’s said all the time, but I’m going to say it again: women don’t always get much opportunity in comedy,” LaVerne said. “The opportunity to be funny on stage is still rather slim for women. I love how all of my cast are funny women who each shine in their roles. There isn’t just one funny character. All five ladies get the chance to make the audience laugh and it’s the best feeling to make an audience laugh.”
“5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche” was written by Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood and debuted in Chicago in 2011. The play takes place at a Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein’s annual quiche breakfast in 1956. The five main characters are officers of the women’s society. Communists attack their picturesque way of life during the play.
Cate Ross plays the youngest of the officers, Dale. When asked about why she auditioned Ross said:
“I like the period that it’s set in. I think the play raises some questions people should be asking about what it was like in that time to be a lesbian. That time period was very fraught with violence and danger for being out at all, and as the title of the play says, we are the five lesbians eating a quiche, so it reminds the public that we still have a lot of struggles with the civil and human rights movements.”
Ross went on, “We’ve made great strides since the fifties in gay and queer rights, but we have a long way to go. I think it’s important to keep it fresh in people’s minds that the struggle isn’t over.”
Richard Carter said he agreed to be the assistant director because he also believes in the play’s message.
“There are actors who play gay who aren’t gay,” said Carter. “I like that a person can be cast as a gay character but not be a gay person and they can play that character normally. Never even necessarily taking into account that the person is gay or bringing any of those stereotypes into the character’s mannerisms. And it’s another way to identify with the humanity of gay people.”
Salissa Thole plays Lulie, the president of the society. She said the play was uncomfortable at first, but she learned to grow with it.
“Memorization is a huge challenge,” said Thole. “When we first started, I said to one of the cast members, ‘I’d rather be learning 25 songs right now.’ I think I could do that instead of learning all of my lines. But I love it. I think the best part of it is that I’m able to overcome this challenge.”
Thole summed up the feeling behind “5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche”:
“I think comedy is where it’s at. It’s hilarious and it’s funny. You don’t have to be so pretty or care about what other people think about what you look like. It’s just non-judging fun.”
Know and go
Where: Hangar Ballroom
When: April 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17
For more information visit Juneau Douglas Little Theatre at www.jdlittletheatre.org.