Penn State Centre Stage offers historic production of ‘Emilia'

Penn State Centre Stage's production of “Emilia,” which runs through April 22 at the Pavilion Theatre, will feature an entirely female and nonbinary cast and artistic team for the first time in the School of Theatre's history. “Emilia” was written in 2018 by Morgan Lloyd Malcom and highlights the life of Emilia Lanier, a feminist poet who was rumored to be Shakespeare's “dark lady.” The play follows Emilia through three different parts of her life, with each Emilia being played by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) actors. Jenny Lamb, director of the show and assistant teaching professor of theatre, said the play is written to be an ensemble piece with not just one star, but many voices having a chance at the spotlight. It is also written so that the entire cast must be female or nonbinary. “It was a piece commissioned by the Globe Theatre in an effort to have more diverse, more underrepresented voices being produced in the space,” Lamb said. Throughout this imaginative retelling of her life and relationship with Shakespeare, “Emilia” aims to point out that history is not often written about women or marginalized voices. “The questions that ‘Emilia' is asking of us are not questions of the past, rather questions of the now,” Lamb said. “It's hundreds of years later and we're still kind of fighting for the same things.” Emily Simpson, technical director for the production and a third-year theatre design student, said having an all-female or nonbinary artistic team has been a unique experience. During rehearsals, her mentor was the only man in the room. “I just can't think of another production experience where that's been the case. It was really kind of cool to realize that,” Simpson said. On April 19, sponsored by the University Park Undergraduate Association, Centre Stage is holding “Burn Bright: Women and Nonbinary Night,” with all seats being $10. To learn more, visit @psutheatre on Instagram, and to purchase tickets, visit the Arts Ticket Center.