Tuesday, October 9, 2012

You Laugh

We recently acquired a small collection of Dartmouth's more recent history related to the introduction of coeducation in 1972. Elizabeth Epstein Kadin entered Dartmouth College in 1973, during a time when the College had not yet come to terms with this monumental change, and a sexist and hostile environment pervaded the campus. In response, as part of a class project for a philosophy seminar entitled "Feminism and Revolution," Epstein and seven other women wrote and produced a play called You Laugh, in 1975. The play was a "35 minute series of skits designed to focus on feelings and perceptions of Dartmouth women." Even though the women disagreed as much as they agreed during the writing process, according to Melanie Graves '78, every woman could identify with some of the crude jokes, insults and sexual stereotypes they were confronted with on a daily basis.

The play was first performed at Hopkins Center in front of a sympathetic crowd of only women. However, the next two performances at Rollins Chapel were opened up to the entire Dartmouth community and attracted a mixed crowd, stimulating lengthy discussions among those who attended.

Though it would take many more years, for women to be truly accepted at Dartmouth, the play exceeded the expectations for those who were involved and supported it. It remains a testament to all the women who fought and ultimately succeeded to break into this once all male bastion.

To view the script of You Laugh as well as newspaper accounts and correspondence related to the play and coeducation, including letters of support from trustees as well as letters from a disgruntled alum ask for MS-1228, The papers of Elizabeth Kadin.

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