March 18th to March 20th, 2021, Austin College Theatre presented Emilie: La Marquise Du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight by Lauren Gunderson. Directed by Austin College’s very own Abbey Goodman ’21! The stylistic choices to the scattered chuckles from the crowd throughout the show proved it to be a hit.
The first thing noticed, while watching the show, was how beautiful the lighting design was. Warm pink tones and beautifully timed lighting cues did a wonderful job of setting up and capturing the mood of each scene. While the play only contained 5 actors, the actors held roles for many characters, and they always did a great job of distinguishing which character they were. Whether they rearranged their body language, switched their tone of voice, or threw on an additional piece of costume – the difference between characters was very easy to determine.
On a separate note about the actors, they did a spectacular job of connecting to the audience. Due to COVID restrictions, seats were assigned, audience members were required to wear masks and the theatre was not filled to full capacity. With such a small cast, having a small audience can be nerve-wracking. However, the cast kept the audience engaged and excited. Much to my surprise, erupted laughter occurred more than once. The play was very humorous. Kate “Scout” McComack-Morris ’22 was perfectly cast for Voltaire – who ended up being my favorite character in the play!
My only complaint, which really is more my fault than anything, is that the play was a bit hard to follow if someone maybe didn’t know the history of Miss Émilie du Châtelet – a French mathematician and philosopher. Émilie du Châtelet translated Isacc Newton’s Principia which contains the basic laws of physics. According to aps.org, “One of her most important contributions to science was her elucidation of the concepts of energy and energy conservation” (2008). Which I had no clue about – resulting in it being the only downside of my experience.
It was beautifully put together, and it was an opportunity to learn about a smart and strong woman. I find it appropriate that the production was shown in March because it really showcased issues like misogyny and sexism. Simultaneously, the show celebrated and encouraged women’s equality.
Altogether, the production was one worth seeing. If you run into Abbey or any of the actors from the play, make sure to give them a pat on the back for a job very well done!
APS News. “December 1706: Birth of Émilie Du Châtelet.” American Physical Society, 2008, www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/200812/physicshistory.cfm#:~:text=One%20of%20her%20most%20important,into%20a%20bed%20of%20clay.