Relative Theatrics is set to continue its 2018-19 season next week with the Wyoming premiere of a two-woman play that explores feminism and evolution.
“The How and the Why,” written by Sarah Treem, was first produced in 2011. It follows two female evolutionary biologists who meet on the eve of a national conference. As they discuss their conflicting theories about female evolution, differences in approach to their careers also emerge.
“It has a lot of female empowerment to it, and it crackles with that excitement of different voices and different perspectives,” said Anne Mason, who founded Relative Theatrics and plays Rachel, the younger scientist.
James Hockenberry is directing the production, and Landee Lockhart plays Zelda, the older scientist.
“The How and the Why” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31-Feb. 2 and Feb. 7-9 at the Gryphon Theatre, 710 Garfield. A Sunday matinee is scheduled for 3 p.m. Feb. 3. Tickets are $12 in advance or $16 the day of the show. For students and seniors, tickets are $10 in advance or $14 the day of the show.
Zelda, a Harvard professor, is modeled after a scientist and an anthropologist who postured what’s known as the grandmother hypothesis, which attempts to explain the evolution of menopause as a means for women to devote their energy to the survival of younger generations rather than focus on reproduction as they age.
“She’s a titan in the field of evolutionary biology,” Mason said.
Rachel, a graduate student at NYU, has a conflicting theory about why women menstruate, based on the real-life work of Margie Profet, who theorized that menstruation is a way to rid the body of toxins.
“They have these two very bold theories about the female reproduction system regarding menstruation and menopause, and those theories are at odds with each other,” Mason said.
In addition to their professional conflict, the women have different approaches to how they balance their personal and professional lives. Rachel has a boyfriend and is willing to make sacrifices to help him. She’d like a family someday. Zelda, on the other hand, has always put her career first and doesn’t have a family.
Mason said the play raises questions about issues of particular importance to women, such as how they make room for careers and families.
“I do think that this is a play that speaks to half of the population of the world on an intrinsic level,” she said. “But this is a play that asks universal questions as well.”
She described Zelda and Rachel as “full-blooded characters” who grapple with life-altering discoveries and conflicts.
“There’s a great sense of empathy that can be taken away on any level, and I really hope that shines through,” she said.
The play is recommended for adults because of themes and language. Seating for each performance takes place on the stage, and shows are limited to 50 audience members. A chat with actors and the design team will follow each performance.