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SUNY Theatre Department to Present Noteworthy Feminist Drama

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Fefu takes aim at her husband who is tending the garden.
Photo collage by Jon Jackson

NEW PALTZ -- Standing in the living room of her Bauhaus-inspired country estate in 1935, the leading character in Fefu and Her Friends turns to her guests and utters the following statement. “My husband married me to have a constant reminder of how loathsome women are.”

Harsh and startling, it catapults the audience into the engaging and thought provoking play by Maria Irene Fornes. Fefu and Her Friends opens November 9 at SUNY New Paltz where it will be performed through November 19.

Written in 1977, Fefu and Her Friends is considered one of the foundation works of modern feminist drama. The play examines how the oppression of women in a patriarchal society manifests in the women themselves. The eight characters in the all-female cast reflect a continuum of responses; from Fefu, who appropriates aggressive, hyper-masculine behavior, to Julia, who is so victimized by the oppression that she is paralyzed in a wheelchair.

Experimental and insightful, Fefu and Her Friends peels back the genteel façade of the character’s privileged lives to reveal a dark underbelly that exists below the surface. In performance, Fefu and Her Friends includes an innovative component. During the middle section of the play, the audience is shuttled between four simultaneously performed scenes to watch–at close hand–the evocative drama unfold in the rooms of a New England country house in 1935.

Amid private confessions, spontaneous singing, water fights and shotgun blasts, the characters reveal their personal fortitude, tragedies, joys, and a seemingly inescapable fragility.

Cuban-American playwright María Irene Fornes is the author of more than two dozen works for the stage. She is the recipient of nine Obie Awards, one of which was for Sustained Achievement in Theater. The renowned Signature Theatre Company in New York City devoted its 1999-2000 season to the plays of Fornes. She shares this honor with playwrights such as Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, and Arthur Miller.

The SUNY New Paltz production is directed by John Wade, scenic design by Michael Heil and Michelle Ferrier, lighting design by Carla Linton, sound by Blair Ferrier, costumes by Lauren Klamm, wigs and makeup by Gary Arave.

The Department of Theatre Arts at SUNY New Paltz presents Fefu and Her Friends on November 9-11 and 16-18 at 8:00 p.m. Matinee performances on November 12 and 19 begin at 2:00 p.m. The play is performed in Parker Theatre. Tickets are $16 general reserved and $14 seniors, students and staff reserved. They are available by calling the box office at 845-257-3880 or order online at

Related Event

Immediately following the Friday, November 10 performance, the Department of Theatre Arts will present a forum titled Feminism in the 1970s. Speakers include Professors Reva Wolf, Art History Department, and Anita Gonzalez, Theatre Arts. The guests will offer contextual background on the play. Their presentations are followed by a talk-back with the cast. This event is free of charge and open to all.