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Clemson Players’ performance of Dykes’ ‘Homestead’ is revolutionary, complex

I won’t tell you what I thought about attending a staged reading of a 1950’s re-imaged play on the night of Rush Blowout. I also won’t tell you what I thought of the opening scene when the all-female cast paraded onto the stage and positioned in a semi-circle singing church hymns, reminiscent of a sacrificial ritual. I will tell you this however: The Homestead was not the boring feminist-crazed production I was expecting.
The play is centered on the lives of the newly widowed Lillian and her five daughters. Agnes, the oldest daughter played by Larissa Teale, met the boy of her dreams, Antonio Hernandez (not shown) and she has been keeping him a secret from her extremely strict, Catholic mother and easily jealous sisters. When her mother finds out and her sisters find out shortly after, the drama that follows serves as the focal point of the play. The performance really has it all, a cheating and rebellious sister, a jealous lover, a happy-go-lucky airhead, a bastard child, and a Romeo and Juliet-esque ending.
I have to admit, in addition to me stereotyping the initial storyline, I was also quite skeptical of the “staged reading” aspect. I assumed it would be slow and awkward. However, the staged reading deepens the relationship between the actors and the audience. I felt invested in the play, like a close peer on stage with them instead of a spectator in the audience.
Lynsey Wells did a wonderful job in her monologue as Clarice Bledsoe, the Beckman’s naughty maid. She gave an emotional performance, admitting how her affair with the Beckman Patriarch resulted in the birth of her son. She symbolized the classic low class worker who had been taken advantage of, claiming the extreme “power of a man over a lonely woman.”
I think the reason this show had the effect that it did was because it didn’t shove its message down your throats.
The Clemson Players presented feminism in a revolutionary way. There was not one man in the play, and yet, as a woman, the performance made me feel empowered. This play had subtle feminist undertones, which were presented through roles like Lillian, who represented the social construct of man. She was strict and believed her daughters were “dumb as foxes” without her. Lillian claims her youngest daughter Adele was “made for sin” when she came downstairs in a “revealing” party dress depicting how this century’s stereotypes have been prevalent since the 1950s.
Though Lillian does represent some of the fundamental flaws in society, she also presented some contradictory morals. Clemson thespian Kacey Bair did a wonderful job of capturing her character’s complex multiple dimensions. In a graphic scene that includes a girl on girl slap in the face and more synchronized chanting, Lillian reminds her daughters that they should never have to wear a mask to impress a guy.
In addition to the emotional performance by each and every actor on stage, I would also like to commend each and every lady for her accent. Their accents were done professionally and were definitely not overdone.
I have to say it’s a shame Clemson only put on this production four times. It definitely makes me excited for Clemson’s upcoming performing art season. Be sure to check out Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Tony Award winning musical, Cinderella which is coming to Brooks Center September 23-24.
Go to Clemson’s College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities for show times and pricing.

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