Emilie: La Marquise Du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight presented in Tustin studio theatre

Avery Blasko, Contributing Writer

The University’s Department of Theatre and Dance presented “Emilie: La Marquise Du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight” from Feb. 16-19 in the Tustin Studio Theater. The play is the true story of Emilie du Châtelet, a natural scientist in the 1730s who constantly defied the expectations that were set for her. It was a production of drama, comedy, and the ever-present struggle between love and philosophy. Du Châtelet’s biggest accomplishment was her translation of Isaac Newton’s book “Principal,” which is still considered the standard French translation of the text. When she died at the age of 42 due to childbirth, as the production portrayed, some of her work remained unfinished. Therefore, the production focused on the present version of her character: the Emilie who is looking to solve her unanswered questions from beyond the grave.

The play’s production was “absolutely remarkable,” Lourenço Martins ’21 said. Mukta Phatak ’18, played the lead.

The play created a distinction between the “alive” Emilie and the “dead” Emilie. Phatak, who portrayed the “dead” Emilie, was the focus of the production, acting out her life with the “alive” Emilie stepping in occasionally. There were times when Phatak’s character got too close to her past, and had to be snapped back into reality. When she was taken back into reality, all of the lights in the theatre cut, leaving the audience sitting in complete silence and darkness, until Emilie was taken back into reality, gasping for breath. During these moments, the lighting and sound crew worked to capture the feeling of shutting down, and then bringing not only Emilie, but also the audience, back into reality.

This production was directed by Casey Venema ’18. Venema said she chose this particular play because she “was drawn to the way it intersects feminism, science, and art.” Additionally, she “knew [she] wanted to produce a female playwright and feature a woman’s narrative, so it was love at first sight with ‘Emilie.'”

“I feel like this show is a unique opportunity to not only empower women on this campus, but also highlight our diverse liberal arts community,” Venema said.


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