Breaking news: The Bacchanals are staging the NZ premiere of Jessica Swale’s Blue Stockings!

“A woman who expends her energy exercising the brain does so at the expense of her vital organs,” said Dr Henry Maudsley, world-renowned psychiatrist and advisor to the royal family in 1874.

Earlier in 2014 The Bacchanals brought you Once We Built A Tower, Dean Parker’s play about how New Zealand once had the most ahead-of-its-time welfare scheme in the world. In October 2014, The Bacchanals Are Back!TM with a play that again shows how fortunate we are to live in such a progressive country (don’t let the election result fool you!). “I know, I know,” says director David Lawrence, “everyone thought we’d be doing an adaptation of Dirty Politics instead of a Victorian period drama. Don’t worry, it’s still political!”

Two decades after Kate Edger became New Zealand’s first female university graduate in 1877, women in the rest of the British Empire were still fighting for the right to education despite matching their male peers grade for grade. Blue Stockings tells the tale of four women studying science at Girton College, Cambridge in 1896, the year that headmistress Elizabeth Welsh attempted to convince the University senate that women should be allowed to graduate with degrees.

Photo (c) Douglas Chubb

Photo (c) Douglas Chubb

Jessica Swale’s play premiered at Shakespeare’s Globe in August 2013, and The Bacchanals are thrilled to be presenting it in New Zealand for the first time. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the 17th century or the 21st – when you’re writing plays for the Globe stage, the ideas have to be huge and epic,” says David Lawrence. “Blue Stockings is at once comic and tragic, intimate -and epic, specific and timeless.” Said The Guardian’s Michael Billington: “Jessica Swale writes with palpable vigour and leaves you astonished at the prejudices these education pioneers had to overcome.”

Winners of the Critics’ Wildcard award for Guts, Determination, Kiwi Ingenuity and Inspired Profligacy With Zero Budget at the 2013 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards, the same team of Bacchanals who brought you Coriolanus, The Clouds, Gunplay, All’s Well That Ends Well and Once We Built A Tower are so happy to be back with their third show for 2014 and their 29th production as a company. Blue Stockings stars Kirsty Bruce, Alice May Connolly, Joe Dekkers-Reihana, Brianne Kerr, Salesi Le’ota, Michael Ness, Hilary Penwarden, Jean Sergent, Ellie Stewart, Michael Trigg and Aidan Weekes, and is directed by David Lawrence.

The Bacchanals present Blue Stockings by Jessica Swale ● The Long Hall, Point Jerningham (behind St Barnabus’ and Roseneath School) ● Tuesday 28 October – Saturday 8 November, 7pm (no show Sunday) ● All tickets $15 ● Bookings e-mail

Next time: a cut & paste of the media release for our January 2015 production of Richard III, no doubt!