“It’s been a different experience to say the least, but I firmly believe that from challenges and limitations comes the most miraculous art and I am excited to share this art with others. I’m really excited about this performance,” Jordan Zelvin ‘21 said.

Zelvin is putting her own spin on the French Revolution with her character Marie Antoinette in the Department of Theatre’s production of The Revolutionists. Written by Lauren Gunderson, the play follows playwright Olympe de Gouges, assassin Charlotte Corday, Haitian rebel Marianne Angelle and overthrown queen Marie Antoinette as they “lose their heads” and try to beat back the extremist insanity of Paris in 1793. The feminist comedy, directed by Associate Professor Cheryl McFarren will be performed in Sharon Martin Hall at the Micheal D. Eisner Center For the Performing Arts and recorded for viewing.

In an attempt to maintain as authentic a theatre experience as possible, the group is performing the show four separate times, even though there is no live audience. The performance can be watched Saturday, March 20 & 27 at 8:00pm or Sunday, March 21 & 28 on demand. Advanced viewing tickets are required and there is no charge.

Zelvin explained that the four actors are actually maintaining social distance while they perform, utilizing clever camera tricks to make them seem closer together.

“So many parts are being filmed in such a way that it appears the actors are closer than they actually are when in reality, we are maintaining our distance,” she said. “Our director, Cheryl, really wanted to find a way for the 4 principal roles to perform this piece safely AND maskless while still upholding that which makes The Revolutionists all that it is.”*

Despite the clear setbacks of COVID-19, Zelvin is excited to portray Marie Antoinette. Though the absence of a live audience takes away from the spontaneity of live performance, Zelvin is appreciating The Revolutionists for what it is. The theme of women supporting women runs throughout the play — Zelvin felt this camaraderie among the characters and among the actors themselves.

“It’s going to be different because we will not have a physical audience so you don’t get the immediate gratification of a laugh or a gasp or any kind of reaction, but I’m so thrilled to be making art in any capacity right now and to end my Denison career with a show celebrating badass women.”

Though Marie Antoinette is known as a harsh, elitist historical figure, Zelvin put her own spin on the character, as did actors Destiny Mack ‘21, Katie Lauck ‘23 and Lucy Dobson ‘22, who respectively play Marianne Angell, Olympe de Gouges and Charlotte Corday.

“I’m playing a real historical figure, someone with whom we’re all vaguely familiar, but put in a fabricated context,” Zelvin said. “She’s one of those characters in history that is easily scapegoated and demonized. While she deserves some of the blame for the poverty of the French people in the late 1700s, she really is a sympathetic figure who I’ve enjoyed unpacking during this rehearsal process.”

*The students performed in accordance with the University’s safety protocols.

March 16, 2021