Part Three: Milkmaids Rock
Production shot from Daughters of Io. All photos are by Abby Mahler
“It felt like a rock concert.”
I kept repeating this phase to anyone who asked me about the three performances of Quincy Long’s play Daughters of Io that we staged in November. I had never had an experience like it as an actor. The audience went wild: screaming, crying, and laughing every chance they could get. The performers were so overwhelmed by the shared moments we were having with the audience that we started losing it onstage. We were all in on an inside joke of sorts, poking fun at Bennington and diving deeper into the sanctuary we all shared.
What makes Bennington such a perfect place to set a play? And why did the audience react this way? Onstage, during the first performance, I think I got my answer: It might not be the place itself as much as the people who are drawn to it. With every performance of Daughters of Io we were given a chance to recreate this community before the eyes of the students, faculty, and the families of the cast and crew that made Daughters of Io come alive.
A Martha Graham dance number (Abby Mahler)
Yes, this campus is beautiful. And yes, it is a wonderful location to set a moody, intellectual murder mystery. (Just ask Donna Tartt.) But it is so much more than the beauty of the Green Mountains that surround the campus. The beauty lies in the hand holding and the silly dancing backstage before shows. It is in the warm ups we did together as a cast. The beauty really is in the people here.
At the end of the show the Milkmaids graduate, throwing our caps into the air, the lights going out before they hit the ground. We sing a final song to the audience, a resolution of sorts to the show. It seems like a final goodbye from the characters, letting the audience go back to their daily lives and leave the show behind them.
Sam Levit and Viva Wittman in Daughters of Io (Abby Mahler)
I’d like to thank our wonderful director and playwright, the student band, the students working in both the costume and scene shops, the drama faculty, our stage hands and stage manager, the dance faculty and students who helped us, and the rest of the lovely cast. And, of course, I’d like to thank everyone who was in the audience that weekend for making a girl playing a Milkmaid feel like a rockstar, a sentence I never thought I would be able to write.