On Monday, March 3, Prof. Gayle Wald participated in Woolly Mammoth Theater’s panel discussion for its new play, “Stunning.” Prof. Wald was invited to contribute her scholarly insight into the play’s themes.
Here is what Prof. Wald had to say about the event:
The evening consisted of a reading of a scene from the play by two students from the University of Maryland, followed by a panel discussion in a Q&A format.
“Stunning” centers on two characters: Lily, a 16-going-on-17-year-old Syrian-Jewish bride, who is marrying a man much older than she, and Blanche, a 43-year-old black woman whom Lily hires as her maid. Lily comes from very insular community, and so Blanche’s presence forces her to question her assumptions. And so on.
I talked a bit about the role of the African American domestic in contemporary American theater. Tony Kushner’s award-winning “Caroline, or Change” also features an African American domestic–in this case, one who has a powerful impact on a young Jewish boy in Mississippi. “Stunning” is set in the present, in Brooklyn, yet raises similar issues.
I also talked about Lily’s characterization of herself as “white” and Blanche’s perception that she is not white. There is a tension in the play between Jewishness and Arabness. As a U.S.-born Syrian Jew, is Lily Jewish? Is she an Arab? Is she white?
The show opens March 10 at Woolly Mammoth Theater, and there will be pay-what-you-can performances that night as well as March 11. Prof. Wald would like to encourage all GW students to see live theater, especially “Stunnning,” which looks to be “an interesting and challenging play.”