For its 2017-2018 season, ETSU’s Theatre and Dance Department celebrates female playwrights. The first production this fall is “Playhouse Creatures” written by April De Angelis. This play tells the story of some of the first female actors in 17th century London’s theatre scene during the Restoration.

Taylor Hutchison plays the lead, and this production is also her senior thesis project. As a junior theatre major from Burnsville, North Carolina, she plans to graduate in spring 2019. I spoke with her about this role and her experiences in the theatre program. Here’s what she had to say.

Q. Tell us about the play. What drew you to it as your senior thesis?
A. “Playhouse Creatures” is about five well-known women of the Restoration, set in 1669, who are finally allowed to act on stage. I play Nell Gwynn, who is a charismatic, witty and strong character. The story follows these women and the trials and tribulations they faced during that time. Our director, Bobby Funk, suggested that I consider this role for my thesis. I thought it would be perfect for my senior thesis because it has been the most challenging role I’ve had yet at ETSU. I have to act, dance, sing, have a British accent and have good comedic timing. I have also loved researching and learning about the Restoration.

Q. How do you feel that this project is a culmination of what you’ve learned in your studies? How have you seen yourself change since you began?
A. As an artist, I always try to find ways to challenge myself, which is why I feel this show is the perfect choice for my thesis project. I think I have definitely changed in many ways since I was a freshman. I have grown as a person, an artist and most importantly, as a critical thinker. I have taken many classes that have helped me with this production, like acting I, theatre design basics, dramatic structure and many more. I also work in the shop for my work study, so I am learning about my craft on a daily basis.

Q. What has been your experience in putting it together?
A. This has been one of the shortest rehearsal processes I have ever been a part of. In the past, I have usually been in the second show of the season, which usually runs in November. We only had about a month to put everything together. This is also one of the smallest casts I’ve ever worked with. I have had the best time working with the four other women in this cast. Every single one of them are so inspiring and are amazing artists. I love them all. We have an amazing team. Our director, Bobby, and our stage managers, Keith Maultbay and Ashton Bishop, have all been amazing to work with.

Q. What do you hope audiences will take away from this performance?
A. I hope that audiences leave the theater feeling uplifted and inspired. I think that this play leaves you thinking about things you wouldn’t normally in a day. One of the many reasons I love this play is because it is a feminist play. Even though it takes place in the late 1600s, it’s amazing how relevant many of the themes are today. It is a play with rich themes that I know people, especially women, will be able to relate to.

“Playhouse Creatures” runs Oct. 8-12 in the Bud Frank Theatre in Gilbreath Hall. General admission is $10 and student tickets are $5. Purchase can be made online or at the box office.