The Force of Habit, a funny and controversial 17th-century play about gender roles and social customs, will be performed for only the second time in English, in a production at University of Puget Sound.
Written in Spanish by Guillén de Castro during the Spanish Golden Age, The Force of Habit was translated into English by Gonzaga University Assistant Professor of Theater History Kathleen Jeffs and first performed at that campus in 2013.
Puget Sound’s Department of Theatre Arts will present The Force of Habit at 7:30 p.m., on Friday, Oct. 30; Saturday, Oct. 31; and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Nov. 5–7. There will also be a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Nov. 7. All performances will be in Norton Clapp Theatre, Jones Hall. Ticket information and a map of campus are below.
Sara Freeman ’95, associate professor of theatre arts, will direct the fast-moving comedy, which follows the lives of a brother and sister who are separated at birth and then each raised in ways that clash with the cultural norms of their society. Once reunited the siblings have to deal with their families’ unmet expectations and with an awakening of romantic love, which forces them to reconsider the manner of their upbringing. The play addresses the question of whether gender is the result of “nature” or “nurture” in a timeless and engaging manner.
“This story enters into our campus and cultural conversations about gender and identity in ways that are truly fascinating, given that it was written in about 1610,” said Freeman. “It asks questions such as: To what degree are we all gender-fluid? How much does what we wear matter to our gender and identity? And, can we change our habits? It’s going to be an exciting show with expressive, heightened language, period costumes, dancing, and sword fighting.”
Choreography for the production is by Marisela Fleites-Lear, voice and text coaching by Eric Ray Anderson ’81, and dramaturgy by theatre arts major Hannah Ferguson ’17.
Translator and Gonzaga University Professor Kathleen Jeffs joined director Sara Freeman for a week of Puget Sound class visits and rehearsals of the play in September and will return on the opening weekend. A dramaturg and scholar of the Spanish Golden Age, she studied at Oxford University and served on the faculty there. She previously worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, staged plays at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and co-produced a one-woman show at London’s Theatre 503. Her upcoming book is Staging the Spanish Golden Age: Translation and Performance.
The production of The Force of Habit is one of a series of guest artist events being held at Puget Sound over the next year that share the theme of “the marriage of language and sound.”
FOR TICKETS: Tickets are available online at tickets.pugetsound.edu, or at Wheelock Information Center, 253.879.3100. Admission is $11 for the general public; $7 for seniors (55+), students, military, and Puget Sound faculty, students, and staff. Any remaining tickets will be available at the door.