Office of the Provost

Feminism Across Generations

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    Theatre Professor Kathleen Juhl (right) came up with the idea to involve women from the community in her Feminism and Performance class, which is cross-listed in Theatre, Communication Studies and Feminist Studies. (Photos by Maritza Robles)
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    Annabeth Barbre (right) and AAUW member Pat Rehm rehearse the vignette they wrote together as part of the intergenerational theatre project.
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    Daniella Barrera (right) and AAUW member Lynn Mann rehearse the vignette they wrote.
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    Raylan Long (center) rehearses a skit with AAUW members Barbara Waite (left) and Lynn Mann right).
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    Sarah Schrantz (right) worked with AAUW member Carol Flynn on a vignette about gender.

Intergenerational theatre project connects students with women in the community

Is feminism different today than it was 50 years ago?

Students in the Feminism and Performance class taught by Kathleen Juhl, professor of theatre, are finding out this semester in a unique way: by working on a theatre project with women who are old enough to be their mothers or grandmothers.

Juhl came up with the idea for the intergenerational theater project after talking with Sarah Brackmann, director of civic engagement. Brackmann had attended a meeting of the Georgetown Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and thought they might be willing to partner with Juhl on the project.

The group agreed, and all 10 students in the class were paired with an AAUW “pen pal.” The students and pen pals worked together to write scenes on topics related to feminism such as abortion, rape and gender equality in the workplace.

The scenes will be combined into a play called “The F Word Across Generations” that will be performed on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at 4:30 p.m. in the Lynda Ballroom. (The “F” stands for feminism)

Juhl said that going into the project, she didn’t expect that the students and older women would find much in common. But it turns out that they did.

“I think our generation feels disconnected from older generations, but it shouldn’t,” said Daniella Barrera, a sophomore who is double majoring in Communication Studies and Theatre. “We are really not so different, which is exactly what feminism is all about.”

Barrera worked with AAUW member Lynn Mann on a vignette about a young woman who is called nasty names for wearing sexy clothing while searching for her friend’s dog. 

AAUW members said they gained new insight from the project as well.

“I have enjoyed the entire process,” said Mary Kay Pierson, a long-time AAUW member and current co-president of the Georgetown Branch. “It has updated me a bit about the way young people are thinking of things, and to be honest, I am so impressed with everyone in this class. They are fine young people, and it gives me a great feeling about our future.”

Pierson worked with the one male student in the class, Andrew Garcia. Garcia will be doing a  monologue on feminism from the male’s point of view. “It is very thoughtful and articulate,” Pierson said. Pierson will read a short piece that gives her beliefs in feminism.

Juhl said the AAUW members were “willing to talk about anything” with the students, including sex, divorce and their new relationships.

Those attending the Nov. 20 performance will have a chance afterwards to discuss the topics it covers. After the performance, AAUW Co-president Dianne Melton also will talk about fellowships and graduate scholarships that AAUW has available for women once they have completed their bachelor’s degree.

−      Interviews by Maritza Robles