Women of The Revolutionists: Alison Edwards as Olympe de Gouges

In celebration of International Women’s History Month, Park Square Theatre and PRIME Productions presents the Women Wednesday Interview Series! Kicking off this series is Alison Edwards, who plays the historical activist and playwright Olympe de Gouges in The Revolutionists.

Alison found her love of acting through her parents, who were both heavily involved in community theatre – with her father as a director and her mother as an actress. Throughout her time at school, Alison participated in the theatre program until she thought “Well, no one is really an actor for real.” and began to explore other passions, including her love of animals. But after having some trouble “pissing her own frog” in AP Biology, she went on to study Theatre at Boston University. 

Alison worked regionally for many years, including in New York, four seasons at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and was cast in the National Shakespeare Company – which toured to schools all over the country. With the urge to do something different, Alison moved to the Twin Cities about eight years ago.

In 2016, Alison Edwards co-founded PRIME Productions with Elena Giannetti and Shelli Place as a response to the lack of available roles for mature actresses in the Twin Cities.

The Revolutionists is about real historical figures. Tell me about your character, Olympe de Gouges. Who is she and how did you prepare for your role?

I’ve done some research and what I love about her is that she was a very early women’s rights advocate– she was a Revolutionist! During the Revolution they came out with the Rights of Man and she went, ‘Well wait a minute, there’s something wrong with that!’ She rebutted the entire thing, article by article, including women in it. She was also one of the first women to come out vocally in support of the abolition of slavery in the Caribbean. She’s a real radical character and I have always been attracted to female characters that are outside of their time. One of the things that I personally find frustrating is being told that there were things I couldn’t do, as a woman.

That is the kind of journey that so many women in history have taken, and to look at powerful women from that lens of being constrained by the legality of the time, by the mores of the time. That’s one of the things I love about Olympe because she was widowed very young, she was smart enough to go  ‘well, I’m a widow now, I have all the rights I need, as long as I don’t get married again!’ She, apparently, had a lover for a long time but she refused to marry him because she had more power as a widow. So that’s one of the things that really appeals to me about her – she was able to break out of that mold. 

Playing Olympe de Gouges, you are embodying someone who was both an artist and activist. What are some of the challenges you’ve come up against as an artist during a tumultuous time in our history?

It’s interesting that you asked because much of that speaks to why we formed PRIME Productions to begin with. When I was fresh out of college during the women’s movement, I remember thinking ‘I’m in the theatre, it’s never going to affect me. Men can’t play my parts.’ Well, yes they can, thank you very much. The frequency that I worked was decreasing drastically because roles for mature women aren’t being written and, if they are, there’s generally only one woman in the play. 

What is the most rewarding part of acting in The Revolutionists? Do you have a favorite moment in the show?

What I love about this play–well, I sort of love everything about this play! I was actually the one who found it and went, I think we should do this! I love the writing and the dialogue and all of these women are portrayed as very smart. The thing that I find really interesting is sort of the dream concept and that it’s her life passing before her eyes. I think what will probably be a lot of fun, performing the final scene when she’s actually facing her death. 

What do you hope audiences will take away from this show?

I hope they will be surprised by these women, and I hope that they will take away the idea that they can make a difference.

 

The Revolutionists is playing on the Park Square Theatre Proscenium Stage from March 29th to April 16th. To buy tickets, please call the box office at 651-291-7005 or visit https://parksquaretheatre.easy-ware-ticketing.com/events.

Interview and Article by Morgan Gray

*Interview shortened for clarity and brevity.

Tickets

The Park Square Ticket Office is open for phone calls Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from noon to 5:00 pm.
Please call 651.291.7005.

For service other days of the week, please email tickets@parksquaretheatre.org.

Tickets can be purchased online at anytime.

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