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All-female LAB! play focuses on college life

Photo: All-female LAB! play focuses on college life (Sarah Haderbache)
White turtleneck with pink skirt and short brown hair: Amanda Baldiga as Kate Brown dress with tan sleeves, long blonde hair: Nicola Vann as Leilah Green patterened wrap dress with long brown hair: Claire Karwowski as Muffet White top, yellow skirt with long blonde hair: Ali Evarts as Samantha Black and White patterened dress with long brown hair: Kristi Stout as Rita Orange dress and cardigan with shortish brown hair: Madeline Hurley as Carter Pink dress with long blonde hair: Margaret Burrus as Susie Friend Black dress with white collar and grey hair: Lauren Hovis as Mrs. Plumm Orange shirt with short brown pixie cut hair: Katie Chelena as Holly

Eight women and zero men comprise the cast of LAB! Theatre’s most recent main stage production.

“Uncommon Women and Others, ”set in the early 1970s at Mount Holyoke College, an all-women’s school in Massachusetts, opens tonight in Kenan Theatre.

The script, written by Tony-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein, was inspired by her own experience at Mount Holyoke. It was first performed off-Broadway in 1977.

The plot focuses on a group of girls about to graduate college, said Stephanie Linas, director of the play.

“They are dealing with how to handle feminism and female identity coming out of college and going into the professional world,” she said.

The script tells the characters’ stories through a series of flashbacks.

“We can all relate to something in the show, especially as women in college, because it’s what it is about,” said freshmen Katie Chelena, member of the cast.

LAB!, which is open to all UNC students, rarely produces all-female plays.

Linas said that the atypical cast created an unusual rehearsal dynamic.

“Because it’s all women, that sort of gave us the freedom to not really have a filter on our conversation,” she said.

“It’s been a really warm and welcoming atmosphere,” she said.

Several members of the cast said they felt the same way.

“We never apologized for our opinions or laughter,” said junior Claire Karwowski, a cast member. “When you’re in a dynamic where it’s all women, it’s safe.”

But not all of the actresses were sure about working with an all-female ensemble.

“I didn’t think I was going to like that, because I don’t usually like girls,” said Kristi Stout, another cast member.

“They’re too emotional.”

She said that despite her concerns, she ended up loving her time working with the cast.

“Every one of these girls is different and smart and beautiful,” she said.

The play will be performed on LAB!’s mainstage in Kenan Theatre, which normally seats 265. But for this production, only 85 seats will be available for each performance.

“The way the theater is made, we have the audience on both sides, so it’s a very intimate perspective,” Karwowski said.

Linas said she hopes the audience relates to the characters as much as the company itself did.

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“Women in college today are dealing with the same issues,” she said.

“They are also dealing with things like boys and school and sex and love an all these things.”

Nicola Vann, another cast member and the community outreach director for LAB!, said she agreed the play is relevant for contemporary audiences.

“The way that they interact is the way that we interact,” she said.

Chelena said putting together “Uncommon Women” was unlike any production she’s been a part of.

“It’s like a giant sleepover.”

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