Theater education major Tina Binns and Peck School of the Arts professor Anne Basting collaborated on a new play, “Slightly Bigger Women,” which they describe as a cross-cultural and intergenerational performance-dialogue piece that looks at changes in women’s lives.
“Slightly Bigger Women” runs April 22-26 at Kenilworth’s Five-O-Eight Studio. For more information, visit arts.uwm.edu/tickets.
Binns, who wrote the UWM Department of Theatre production, described her contributions.
How did you become involved in this project?
Last year I wrote a show called “Papa and the Moon” in my playwriting class. I submitted it to New Directions, which is where students can propose plays to do as a production at UWM. My play was accepted and that’s when my professor, Alvaro Saar Rios, said Anne Basting was looking for a writer.
How did you work with director Anne Basting?
At first we met about once a month. She gave me materials, excerpts of the book, and I watched the 1994 movie “Little Women.” We worked over winter break to rough out scenes and throw out ideas for characters. By February, we had a working script.
This play is described as a ‘performance/dialogue.’ What does this mean?
The performance aspect is (prepared) lines and stage directions. The dialogue is when we open it up to the audience to talk back to our players.
Have you seen this format in other pieces?
I’d never heard of it, that was all Anne. I can definitely see where it’s going to work and I’m not sure we’ve done something like this at UWM before.
This play grew out of the novel, ‘Little Women.’ Had you read it?
No, I didn’t read it because I was stubborn. I was familiar with the material, but was trying as hard as I could to stay away. When Anne asked me to do this research, I wished I hadn’t been so stubborn.
How did you find these women and incorporate their stories?
Anne interviewed some older women and got letters from a women’s studies class at UWM. We took the responses that really spoke to us. We had one lady talking about the 1930s. We used these responses and the idea of what has and hasn’t changed.
What did you learn from the women?
How strong people really are despite what cards they were dealt. When we look back, I find people look at old housewives and think, “Oh, they could have been in a factory!”
What about opportunities for younger women today?
I grew up in a family of all girls, besides my dad. I think it’s really important that women have equal opportunity and can do anything. Equal opportunity means equal choice.
Why did you choose UWM and Peck School of the Arts?
I started as a film major, and this was the only school I heard good things about. When I got here, though, I was eyeing the theater program and I thought I’d give it a go. I did theater since middle school but this opened up a whole new world for me.
What are your plans after graduation?
Get a job (laughs). I plan to stay in southeastern Wisconsin, but also plan to go on vacation to England immediately after graduation. My biggest plan is to not move back in with my parents (another laugh).
“Slightly Bigger Women” runs April 22-26 at Kenilworth’s Five-O-Eight Studio. For more information, visit arts.uwm.edu/tickets. It is the first of five events that are part of The 2015 Flourish Festival, which demonstrates creativity and intergenerational collaboration. Flourish Festival events emerge through a year of workshops and projects from the Creative Trust, an alliance fostering life-long learning through the arts.