“BLISS (or, Emily Post is Dead!)” will make its world debut at Studio 88 Theater this week. The Miami Department of Theatre will put on the play for five shows, beginning on Feb. 22.
The play, which takes place in North Orange, N.J. in 1960, is described as a domestic comedy. It follows two pill-addicted suburban housewives, Clytemnestra (“Clementine”) and Medea (“Maddy”), who seek out etiquette icon Emily Post for advice. When working woman Cassandra moves into the neighborhood, she shakes up their normal lives and expectations of what women in society during this time can achieve.
For years, Emily Post has been a cultural icon of high society and wealth. She was known in the early 20th century for her rules of etiquette, which continued to be updated after her death in 1960. Ironically, for someone who published such rigid rules for how women and society should function, Post’s personal life was often subjected to scandal and controversy.
“This play is so relevant and really speaks to issues that are going on in the world right now,” said Theresa Liebhart, a senior playing the part of Clementine. “It also merges the four tragic Greek characters into the setting of 1960 New Jersey.”
While Emily Post’s ideas of womanhood and society may seem outdated to some, many of the feminist themes in the play resonate with modern feminist culture.
“I really enjoy the feminist and social justice themes within the play, and that is what drew me to this show,” said Taylor Hayes, a junior portraying Maddy. “People should come see this show because of the issues that it brings up and how it creates conversation that will hopefully lead to some change.”
With a predominantly female cast, these young women hope to spark conversation and change concerning women’s roles in society, both past and present.
“This show in particular shows women and societal problems can transcend time,” said Liebhart. “Hopefully audiences will walk away changed for the better.”
Cast members expressed their gratitude for being able to be a part of the world premiere of the show.
“Both the director and the playwright have come up from Los Angeles to work on it with us,” said Rachel Brandenburg, a junior portraying the character of Antonia. “It’s been challenging at times, but we’ve worked really hard and we’re excited to present it.
Playwright Jami Brandli will be in town for the performances and will participate in commentary with the audience following the first two shows. In addition, Brandli will lead a workshop on Monday, Feb. 20 at the Howe Writing Center about her career as a playwright.
Brandli, a member of the Playwrights Union and Moving Arts, currently teaches dramatic writing at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. In 2014 “BLISS (or, Emily Post is Dead!)” was named to The Kilroy’s List, honoring the year’s top female-written plays.
Brandli has been a finalist for awards including the Playwrights’ Center Core Writer Fellowship, Princess Grace Award and O’Neill National Playwrights Conference.
All shows will take place at Studio 88 Theater. Shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 22-25 and 2 p.m. on Feb. 26. Tickets are available online and through the Miami box office. Group discounts are available when purchasing 10 or more tickets.