Mason Deas ’24

Putting on “Blue Stockings”

by Kristin Duisberg
Fall Term play offers a timely message about coeducation
Mason Deas ’24 had never acted before she tried out for the SPS Fall Term play, “Blue Stockings,” and says signing up for it was a bit of a whim. “I did ballet when I was younger, so I’ve always been on stage, but never like this,” the new Fourth Former says. “I just figured I might as well try out something new while I have the chance.”
 
Deas’ whim led her to be cast in the role of Mrs. Welsh, the principal at Cambridge University’s Girton College and one of the central characters in the play. Set in 1896, “Blue Stockings” (the term is a derogatory descriptor for women with literary or intellectual ambitions) is about four young women fighting for their right to earn a Girton education. It is also about the community that surrounds them, including male classmates who variously support and object to their presence; a female lecturer whose suffragist sympathies create controversy; and Mrs. Welsh, who walks the line between supporting her students’ ambitions and operating within the constraints of a male-dominated society.
 
Of Mrs. Welsh, Deas says, “She’s an interesting character. She’s the only woman with any influence or power, but her position gives her very little sway over the men of Cambridge.” And while Deas doesn’t see any parallels between her experience and that of her character, “I do understand where she’s coming from,” she says. “She’s playing the long game. She has a very specific goal, and she thinks her way is the only way to meet that goal.”
 
Deas says the opportunity to be part of “Blue Stockings” was particularly resonant in the year the School is observing 50 years of coeducation. She attended the Schoolwide coeducation kickoff celebration on Oct. 12 and enjoyed hearing from a trio of accomplished SPS alumnae, especially as they discussed challenges they had overcome as women in positions of power.
 
“‘Blue Stockings’ is set in a foreign place and time, but it’s a story about a fight for equal education, and the message still rings true here at SPS,” Deas says. “We discussed these connections as a cast and talked about what we wanted to tell the St. Paul’s community through our show. I think doing this play during a time when this topic is fresh in the minds of our community enhanced our ability to make an impact.”

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