Virginia Players’ Lab Series Festival
The Virginia Players have a long history of innovation at the University of Virginia. Founded in the 1920’s, the group is dedicated to building a bridge between students throughout the University and the Department of Drama by offering opportunities to perform, direct and produce theater. The group’s initial incarnation served as the inspiration for the Department of Speech and Drama, which was the precursor to the department that exists today. This past semester, the student-run organization took another step in its evolution with the production of The Virginia Players’ Lab Series Festival, which invited students to create and perform theatrical pieces of their own interest with the help of a $200 investment and mentoring support from both The Virginia Players and the UVA Department of Drama. The weekend-long series was presented October 27 and 28 and featured a production of Monica Byrne’sWhat Every Girl Should Know. The powerful play follows a quartet of young women in 1914 who struggle with issues of sexuality, identity, and abuse. Inspired to the point of obsession by the work of legendary women’s rights activist Margaret Sanger, the women create an elaborate fantasy world in which they have control over their own bodies and futures – a far cry from the reality women faced in the era. The weekend also featuredIdentity: A Musical Theatre Cabaret, which took audiences on a journey through the lives of five individuals and their respective struggles with identity. Through their monologues (and selected musical theater songs), the show was designed to illustrate just how much we can relate to, learn from and support one another in our unique experience of life.