Team of UT-Austin students put on play about womanhood

Hanaa Irfan

The blinding lights dim as the curtain closes and the audience roars with applause. Pride swells among the cast and crew as they exchange tears and hugs, celebrating their last performance of a play entirely written, directed and performed by a team of Longhorns.

Or at least that’s what Jenny Krick, a master’s degree candidate in playwriting, expected when she first wrote her lyrical adaptation of the Greek tragedy “The Trojan Women,” entitled “sad women being sad.” Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the play was instead filmed remotely over Zoom, with the actresses setting up cameras and lighting in their own apartments. For a minimum five dollar donation, students could watch the play on the UT New Theatre website from the comfort of their own homes from April 5-18.

“It ended up being more of a film, as opposed to a recorded piece of theater,” said Krick, who also co-directed the play. “But I think the editing of that served it well so that it actually matched the lyrical writing style.”

Loosely inspired by Krick’s own experiences, the play follows J, a writer who is adapting “The Trojan Women,” and four different versions of herself that have experienced trauma, hopelessness, love and loss.

“The creative team I requested to be all female (and/or) nonbinary, to really not have a lot of cis male presence in the room and amplify voices that aren’t heard,” Krick said. “We did end up having four men on the team, which was great because they were so supportive.”

Krick originally wrote the play in fall 2019 and finalized the cast by the end of last semester. After five weeks of rehearsal, the team began filming in February.

“The snowstorm happened when we had only two more days of shooting,” said Andrea L. Hart, co-director and master’s degree candidate in directing. “We were planning on doing a musical number and instead of doing that together, we sent the actresses prompts and asked them to set it up themselves and do their own shoot.”

Despite the heavy themes the play addresses, Krick wrote it as a comedy set in the modern day to build a deeper understanding of how women use humor to cope with gendered violence.

“We wanted it to feel like these women are at a slumber party and just having these late night conversations with your best friends eating snacks on the bed,” Hart said. “We were really thinking about how each of these women serve as a window into a different woman’s world or life.”

Andrea Nunez, an actress in the play, said because each character represents an experience women face in the real world, it was easy to connect to her role.

“There is this criminal confrontation of men bringing up our traumas and using it for our entertainment, and I think we reclaim that in this adaptation,” said Nunez, a theatre and dance junior. “So we felt really connected to our roles as women.”

Although the team was robbed of their standing ovation, Krick said the film-style play was able to communicate the hardships of womanhood better than the team could’ve ever imagined.

“It’s a hard story to tell, but I think everyone on the team related in some way and went above and beyond,” Krick said.