“I’m a lesbian,” I shouted alongside my fellow audience members. For one night, I was a sister of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein, and together we experienced the freeing moment of coming out in the safe theater space (despite our actual sexual orientations).
This past weekend, Pomona College’s Seaver Theatre featured the student-directed production “5 Lesbians Eating A Quiche.” The Green Room, a theater initiative that promotes productions created by students for the 5C community, supported the production.
Set in 1956, sisters and widows Vern, Dale, Wren, Ginny, and Lulie (played by Miranda Mattlin PO ’21, Sullivan Whitely SC ’19, Tyra Popovich PZ ’21, Carolyn Williams SC ’21, and Mia Kania SC ’20, respectively) opened the play by welcoming the audience to the annual “Quiche Breakfast.”
However, during this special meeting, the Communists attack, and the five sisters are then trapped in the bunker for four years. In the midst of confusion, the characters (save for Lulie) all come out as lesbians in powerful canon.
“The rules of society are thrown out the door, and they’re able to be whoever they want to be,” director Hershey Suri PO ’21 said.
At first, it all seemed like light-hearted fun. The dialogue was witty and amusing, with characters throwing comedic shade at audience members to create an engaging and interactive environment.
It’s made abundantly clear from the beginning that the characters truly like quiche — or rather the egg — as they glorify the savory tart as if it were their true savior.Nonetheless, the show avoids painting its characters as comedic shticks by pushing further into the sisterhood dynamic and individual personality.One particularly powerful yet vulnerable scene was when the naive Ginny was overcome by her desire for quiche.
As all five characters took a bite from Vern’s winning quiche, Ginny crawled onto the table, grabbing the plate as she licked it completely clean. Of course, she did this while simultaneously panting and making “ahh” noises — I’m sure you can imagine what she was trying to simulate.
Facial expressions and exaggerated physicality all lend themselves beautifully to the development of the relationships between the sisters, and the characters continue to surprise the audience.
Stranded together — perhaps as the last five humans on Earth — Dale and Wren come out as lesbians after showing off their matching bracelets. Vern and Ginny follow suit, but just when we expect sister leader Lulie to do the same, she instead shocks the audience by exclaiming “I’m pregnant!”
What ensues is a bundle of hilarity as even more revelations reveal themselves. However, all events accumulate to a somewhat bittersweet, yet heartwarming ending — one that sees the sisters lose one of their own.
Ultimately, Suri’s goal as a director is to convey the importance of carrying an authentic self.
“As much as the world says you can be who you want to be, there are a lot of barriers, personal and external, that do bar you from [doing so],” Suri said. “I wanted to send a message that you can be whoever you want to be. As if you were living in a bunker. As if there were no social constructs.”
The women in the play had the courage to come out as lesbians because they were finally free from expectations and constraints
“There are not a lot of mediums out there in the entertainment world where the LGBTQ+ community is looked at in a positive light,” Suri said.
As a result, Queer Resource Center of The Claremont Colleges hosted talkbacks to facilitate LGBTQ+ representation and discussion, which helped audience members to further understand the play’s message and its gravity.
Suri expressed that she wanted to handle LGBTQ+ themes in a sensitive way and ensure that LGBTQ+ identifying people felt comfortable in the theatre space.
“I was aware that this show is a piece of queer theatre,” Suri said. “So, I needed to make sure that the comedy was not super over-the-top so nothing came out offensively.”
The production was funny, provocative, and also inspiring. Suri summed it up perfectly.“It’s a show about the LGBTQ+ community, but it’s also about sisterhood and being proud to be a woman, and being proud to be gay, and being proud to be human,” Suri said.