Alumna directs play at Yulman Theater

Publication Date

What if Elizabeth Bennet, Catherine Earnshaw, Jane Eyre and Jo March leaped out of their novels and ran away together?

The Department of Theater and Dance’s spring production, “You on the Moors Now,” offers a theatrical take on these literary heroines as they do just that.

You on the Moors Now poster

Performances will be held at the Yulman Theater May 29-June 1 at 7:30 p.m. and June 2 at 2 p.m.

The production is directed by Jasmine Roth ’14 and was written by Jaclyn Backhaus, a New York City-based playwright, screenwriter and educator. Kyra Kelly ’27 is stage manager.

After rejecting marriage proposals, the play’s four heroines set out on an epic adventure to see the world, a radical act that ignites a war between them and their suitors. As the ensemble romps through the moors, they struggle to reconcile past and modern ideas of courtship and grapple with love, anger, ambition, grief and gender expectations.

“This play is a wildly fun and rambunctious mashup of four classic novels written by women in the 1800s – Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ Emily Brontë’s ‘Wuthering Heights,’ Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’ and Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Little Women,’” said Roth, who is teaching acting at Union this term.

“It both pays homage to and transcends the original texts.”

You on the Moors Now” features Alanna Byrne ’26 as “Lizzie” Bennet, Jolita Brettler ’25 as Jo March, Hestia Doud ’25 as Catherine “Cathy” Earnshaw and Maggie Kelley ’24 as Jane Eyre.

“The cast is working really hard as an ensemble to explore these historic characters and also bring a touch of modernity to them. It’s been thrilling to be able to come back to my alma mater to direct this play and to work with this talented group of students,” Roth said.

A native of Manchester, N.H., Roth majored in theater at Union, where she received the department’s 2014 Hedda Hainebach Memorial Prize. After graduating, she worked in directorial and management roles at the Arizona Theatre Company, based in Phoenix and Tucson.

She has taught theater and dance throughout the U.S. and internationally. She is a recent John Wells Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama in Pittsburgh, where she graduated with an MFA in directing this month.

“I believe in stewarding a process filled with curiosity, collaboration and imagination,” she said.

“Working on a show that’s essentially fan fiction of early feminist literature is something I never thought I’d be doing, but I love it,” said Landry Shunn ’27 a pre-medical student and biology major from Seattle who plays the roles of St. John Rivers and Ed Linton. “‘Moors’ is a compelling and raw show that balances comedy and grit exceptionally well. It will stick with you even after you leave the theater.”

“It’s a story about sisterhood and identity, and I’m so happy to be a part of telling that story.” said Seona Chutaro ’27, a political science major who plays Caroline and Amy.

For psychology major Jerome Anderson ’26 of Chicago, the set is as much a draw as the story.

“It’s a fun set,” said Anderson, who plays the role of Bhaer. “Fun to look at, very interesting to build and fun but odd to traverse. I think those themes really carry over throughout the story, too.”

Theater and Dance Department faculty involved include Costume Designer Brittney Belz, Technical Director Andrew Bodd, Scene Shop Foreman Robin MacDuffie and Scenic Designer Andrew Mannion.

Tickets are $15 for general admission and $5 with a Union ID, alumni and senior citizens. They are available for purchase through Eventbrite.

The show will run under 90 minutes, with no intermission. Note: The production contains strong language and adult themes, simulated violence and onstage character deaths, prop weapons, and loud noises.