In a year that has been all about change, it seems fitting that Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley is exploring a revolutionary theme this fall and has chosen a play indicative of that.
A mix of talent from Seattle and familiar faces from Whidbey compose the cast for “The Revolutionists,” a political comedy featuring four historical women from the French Revolution and a healthy dose of girl power.
The show is written by up-and-coming playwright Lauren Gunderson, who has been recognized some years as America’s most produced living playwright.
Besides the all-female cast, WICA’s rendition of “The Revolutionists” also has many women involved behind the scenes on the creative team.
“It’s all professional women, the entire production,” WICA Executive Director Verna Everitt said. “I’m thrilled about that.”
Whidbey resident Teresa Hess plays French Queen Marie Antoinette, who is perhaps the most recognizable character in the piece. Deana Duncan, WICA’s artistic director, is stepping into the role of Olympe de Gouges, a fierce activist playwright in Paris who was killed in 1793 during the Reign of Terror.
“It’s fascinating to play a true historical character, a woman I should have known but had never heard of,” Duncan said.
She was encouraged to audition for the role by the play’s director, Rose Woods, who is also a Whidbey resident.
“I am thrilled to be able to bring this play to life with this dazzling cast and crew at WICA,” Woods said. “These were real women, badass revolutionaries, each in their own way, trying to bring about change in a world predisposed not to listen.”
Mainland residents Abie Ekenezar and Jayne Hubbard will be playing Marianne Angelle and Charlotte Corday, respectively.
Everitt explained that moving forward, the regional arts organization is hoping to bring more actors from different areas, giving community members the chance to perform alongside big-name professionals.
“This is a community theater, and the community has incredible opportunities to be on stage,” she said. “We’re embellishing it with more regional flavor.”
The fall production will also be WICA’s first event with its new COVID-19 policy. To enter the theater, audience members will be required to present photo identification and their COVID vaccination card, or be prepared to take a negative COVID test within the previous 72 hours and present the results.
“We’re going to be watching closely how this affects attendance,” Everitt said. “If attendance goes down, we’re going to understand that. If it goes up, we’ll know that the vaccinated feel comfortable coming in.”
Before the pandemic, the 246-seat theater was accustomed to often selling every single ticket to a show. These days, attendance is only about 50%.
Theatergoers may notice that ticket prices have increased. For an evening show, standard tickets are $30. But premium tickets, which are $45, will let the buyer pick their seat first in the theater. For a matinee, the standard price is $25 and the premium price is $35.
But also new this season, the arts center will be setting aside 20 tickets, priced at $20 each.
“It just gives that opportunity for accessibility,” Everitt said. “We don’t like price being a barrier, but we’ve had to raise it because our attendance has been down.”
“The Revolutionists” runs Oct. 8-23. For more information, visit wicaonline.org.