School Of Theatre’s ‘The Wild Party’ Grapples With Surviving Domestic Violence

The Penn State School of Theatre returns with performances of Andrew Lippa’s 2000 musical “The Wild Party” starting Friday, November 5.

Based on a 1926 poem of the same name by Joseph Moncure March, “The Wild Party” follows Queenie (portrayed by Mary Rose Brendel), who’s a survivor of domestic violence. Queenie grapples with a budding romantic triangle involving her abusive partner Burrs (portrayed by Daniel Tracht) and Mr. Black (portrayed by Malik Bilbrew), a caring stranger. She is forced to grapple with multiple feelings in dissonance with each other, as she struggles to figure out her desired path.

The captivating story of a woman coping with the external and internal stresses associated with her abuse was one that specifically moved director Alison Morooney.

“I was drawn to Queenie’s story for its deep and complex exploration of a traditionally and dangerously private affair – the plight of women who experience intimate partner violence,” Morooney said.

Morooney acknowledged the importance of displaying the strife undergone by survivors but also stressed the delicacy of its staging.

“With The Wild Party, we don’t just ask, ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?'” Morooney said. “We center the experience of the survivor, honoring the full range of her conflicted emotions without judgment.”

That explicit focus on carefully creating a space to discuss such a complex topic was not confined within the fourth wall. It extended into the rehearsal process as well, with the directing team taking extra steps to ensure a secure process for those involved.

“We used trauma-informed practices with every aspect of production from staging and choreography to costume design and engagement with scenic elements,” Morooney said. “When it comes to staging intimate events for performance, it is my sincere belief that here, in a university setting, is the necessary place to begin building new expectations for our practice.”

Frederick Miller, dramaturg for the production and a current senior, finds intense parallels between The Wild Party’s characters’ oftentimes negligent view of one another and the modern world.

“Society is obsessed with ‘The Wild Party’ because society is The Wild Party,” Miller said. “A century later, March’s poetry rings true in its relevance to the issues continuing to plague us. The question remains: ‘Will we listen?'”

Per university guidelines, performers will be unmasked onstage, but masking regulations remain in place for audience members. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m., and the show runs roughly two and a half hours, including an intermission.

Performances of “The Wild Party” will run until Sunday, November 14. Student tickets cost $12.50, while regular admission costs $25.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

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