campus news & events

Colby-Sawyer Hosts 'The Gender Agenda,' a Student-Directed Play about Gender Inequality

NEW LONDON, N.H. – Colby-Sawyer College will host a student-directed production of “The Gender Agenda,” a play that explores discrimination based on gender, race, age and religion.

The play will take place in the Sawyer Center Theatre on Friday, Feb. 29, and Saturday, March 1, at 8 p.m. Seating for the play is restricted to 80 people per performance, and reservations are required. Tickets may be purchased through the Colby-Sawyer box office at (603) 526-3670 and are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Strong language is used in this play, which may not be appropriate for children.

“The Gender Agenda” is a one-act play written by playwright G. L. Horton and touches on several issues that are relevant in today's world including gender inequality, racial profiling, age discrimination and religious issues. Ashley Goulter '08 directs the play, with a cast of student actors including Margaret McCarthy '10 as Jan, Molly Mullen '08 as Sheila, Amanda Knightly '11 as Beth and Kaylln Smith '10 as Ruth.

The play follows a character named Jan who first appears on stage dressed as a man returning home from his high-powered job. Within minutes, Jan transforms into a woman. This swapping back and forth of gender makes the audience question Jan's true gender, and how the other characters view her or him. There are only three other characters: Beth, a conservatively dressed librarian who is a typical church-going woman; Ruth, a fashionable middle-manager at a bank, and Sheila, an uncouth woman with straggly gray hair.

Goulter, a Communication Studies major with a minor in Theatre, is directing the play as her Capstone project, a requirement for all Colby-Sawyer College students in their senior year. The project allows students to develop and demonstrate their cumulative knowledge and skills gained through their studies and pre-professional experiences. In choosing this play, Goulter drew on her own experience with a friend who underwent a sexual re-assignment operation and the difficulties and confrontations that s/he went through, and still struggles with today.

Goulter has also faced challenges while putting together her Capstone, but through it all she has stayed optimistic. “The biggest lesson I have learned from this experience is always to be prepared for whatever life throws at you,” she says. “I had two cast members drop out and had to deal with schedule conflicts. Working together with so many people and being a good communicator has been the biggest challenge.”

The pressure of directing the play while taking classes has also proved a challenge to Goulter, but she says that even though juggling everything is at times overwhelming, there is nothing she would rather do for her senior Capstone project.

“I truly hope that people will walk away from the show aware of how they think of others and reflect on the issues that are important to them,” says Goulter. “I hope the audience comes away with a better understanding of just what some people struggle with every day: the gender inequality and the lack of education and understanding to help them. I hope that with this play, people will gain a little knowledge and see through the eyes of the women on stage with a better understanding of what they go through and what they are fighting for.”

-Amber Cronin '11

Colby-Sawyer, founded in 1837, is a comprehensive liberal arts college located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Our students learn in small classes through a select array of programs that integrate the liberal arts and sciences with pre-professional experience.

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000.