Relative Theatrics is set to premiere a new play about civic engagement and what it means to be a woman in Wyoming.
“And the Wind Howls,” by Leann Kim Torske, is scheduled to run from Sept. 4-13. Tickets are $15, which buys access to a private link to an online stream of the play.
Anne Mason, founder of Relative Theatrics, said she was especially excited about “And the Wind Howls,” as it was commissioned by the Wyoming Arts Council, in partnership with Relative Theatrics, in recognition of the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage this year.
“(We) wanted to have a play that explored ideas around women’s rights, movements against oppression and justice-building, in order to really bring this century-and-a-half-old movement into the present day, into contemporary commentary,” Mason said.
Torske grew up in Casper and now works in the theater industry in Chicago. The cast includes Kat Tyler, Lea Bergman and Mason, under the direction of Mason and Jared Mohr-Leiva.
The play is about Jen, a 19-year-old Wyoming native who returns to her small hometown after her first year of college at the University of Wyoming, during which she encountered a larger world and contemplated a future full of new possibilities.
“She is starting to formulate whether or not she wants to make a future for herself in Wyoming,” Mason said.
Joining her at home for the summer is her best friend, Amber, who attended college in Colorado and can’t wait to leave the state for good. As a Vietnamese-American, Amber feels like she doesn’t fit in and can’t escape the shadow of past trauma caused by the state’s treatment of Asian-Americans, notably at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center during World War II.
Meanwhile, Jen’s mom, Traci, is a hard-working woman who dropped out of college to provide for her daughter and hopes Jen will make a better future for herself. She sees the possible construction of a for-profit ICE detention center as a boon for the local economy
Jen grapples with the tension between love for home, dismay as she observes reluctance to embrace social change, a pull to greener pastures and a desire to create change.
“Jen, wanting to create a future for herself — a place in Wyoming that she can feel proud to call home — believes that she needs to find her voice in order to be a woman, to be a trailblazer, and to make an impact on the community she loves,” Mason said.
The Relative Theatrics organization decided that holding a live theater event wouldn’t be safe for either patrons or the actors and artistic team. Instead, with the help of an apprentice with experience in film production, they filmed an outdoor enactment of the play from multiple camera angles, each depicting a different point of view as seen from the audience.
“We filmed the rehearsals and edited together a show that is theatrical in nature but distributed and digested on screen,” Mason said.
Audience members can purchase access to the final product, which will be uploaded to Vimeo and available from Sept. 4-13.
“And the Wind Howls” opens the eighth season of Relative Theatrics, with the season set to continue in early November. Mason said all upcoming productions will offer the option of online viewing, while the production team will determine whether to return to live productions on a case-by-case basis.