Thursday, January 28, 2021

Mowatt play exemplifies modern society

The Plattsburgh State Theater Department will present “Fashion,” April 21-24 at the Hartman Theatre in Myers Fine Arts Building. The play, written in 1845 by Anna Cora Mowatt, is a satire and comedy of manners that looks at America’s obsession with European taste and culture and has been looked upon as one of the best American comedies of the 19th century.

“Fashion,” which was written nearly 200 years ago sheds light on the issues of class, racism, sexism and privilege during that time period.

PSUC Associate Professor and Director of the play Shawna Mefferd Kelty said it’s a piece she has taught in several of her classes, and students in the past have said how relevant it still is to today’s society.

“A lot of the issues Mowatt dealt with back then are things that still present today and haven’t been fixed entirely,” Kelty said.

Kelty said the play is a comedy of “manners” and it makes fun of the social elite, their mannerism, the things they value and exposing how ridiculous that was.

“It also a satire of American culture from 1845,” she said. “Back then we valued other cultures besides our own, particularly European culture. It’s raising a point by questioning some of our behaviors.”

For some, the play has been a good learning experience and made them step out of their comfort zone.

PSUC freshmanheater and Adolescent education major Brooke Anderson said practicing for the play has helped her grow as an actress and person.

“There was a dual audition for this show,‘First Born’ another play that premiered earlier in the semester and I got into ‘Fashion,’” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect at first.”

Anderson also said she had to make the adjustment from stage manager to actor in a play.

“You have a different mindset as a stage manager than as a an actor,” Anderson said. “It’s been really great being able to work with this cast.”

PSUC sophomore music major Kendall Joseph said he also had to make an adjustment.

“I’ve mostly done musicals, operas and stuff like that,” he said. “I wanted to try something different and just do acting.”

Joseph said the biggest thing he had to get used to was learning his lines.

“It’s easier to learn a song, in my opinion, because you have a melody to go with it,” he said. “It has been a good experience for me.”

Joseph said he has been taking many of theater classes, and it has really helped him with the techniques and methods of acting.

“I’m really interested in doing more work in the theater department,” he said. “Everyone’s great. Most of us know each other through the department. Some of us have been in shows together. It’s nice to work with friends.”

Joseph said it’s been a lot of work and they practice everyday but the end result is always rewarding.

Kelty said audiences should expect to laugh but also to walk out having all their questions answered.

“I hope it might provoke some conversation,” she said.

Tickets are $3 for PSUC students, $9 faculty staff and $11 for the general public. They’re available at and the Angell College Center Information Desk. Discounted tickets will be offered April 21, at $1 for PSUC students and $5 for non-students.

Email David Luces at

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