Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

World premiere of “W.A.S.P.”: A historical theatre production remembering the brave and almost forgotten first female pilots in the US

Audience members got a glimpse of how hard a group of women worked to do what they wanted and not what society believes they should do. These women, who weren’t afraid to go against the odds, endured hardships, oppression, and disrespect to serve their country.

Based on the former organization known as the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) comes Zan Hall’s “W.A.S.P.” which brought to light the first female US air force pilots who were almost forgotten with an all female cast.

After opening weekend, the all new play will continue to run in the Bronwyn Dodson Theatre from Dec 7-9 at 7:30 p.m.

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Women drill and march daily as part of their training for the W.A.S.P. program. Pictured left to right: Audrey Lee, Pingkan Putri, Samantha Green, Cindy Sanchez, Ingrid Solis, Morgan Clark, Cathryn Cooper, Erica Jackson Photo credit: FC Theater Department

“Everyone was struggling with something and everyone had their differences, but they were all fighting for the same thing,” said Danyel Mendoza, FC student majoring in Theatre Arts. “I love how strong they were and how they didn’t give up.”

The storyline follows seven women who train with the Women Airforce Service Pilots in Sweetwater, Texas during WWII. With a shortage of male air force pilots during the peak of war, this program allowed women to volunteer as pilots.

Accurately aligned with history, although women in the WASP program participated in WWII with military efforts, they were not recognized or received benefits as a veteran and were even kept hidden from history. It was not until 1979 that these women received veteran status and they received a Congressional Medal of Honor in 2010.

This lack of awareness of the program and the women involved is what inspired Hall to write “W.A.S.P.” to keep their efforts recognized and bring awareness to a forgotten part of history.

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Women celebrate the promise of military recognition for the W.A.S.P. program. Pictured left to right: Morgan Clark, Pingkan Putri, Joanne Svendsen-Tricanico, Ingrid Solis Photo credit: FC Theater Department

“They influenced women to go into nontraditional jobs for women like piloting and women who were even in the astronaut program were influenced by these ladies,” Hall said. “They were the nucleus that started women along untraditional lines to reach for the stars.”

“W.A.S.P.” was submitted as a one act into Fullerton College’s Playwright Festival for for review during January 2016. After it was chosen for its potential, it was expanded to a full length piece through a production process.

It was interesting to see how Hall would bring this program to life through a theatre production. The answer to that was not the props or the clothing (although the prop designs were nicely detailed), but rather it all came down to the characters.

The chemistry between one another and the detailed background of each character carried the play and kept the audience’s attention. Characters developed nicely over the play duration. If one compares the same characters before the training and after graduation, one can notice a big change in their characteristics.

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Women share stories and hope for the future. Pictured left to right: Ingrid Solis, Joanne Svendsen-Tricanico Photo credit: FC Theater Department

Jackie, portrayed by Ivy Gallardo, is one of the new arrivals that becomes flight leader for their squad. Jackie is a closed book at first, but that quickly changes after spending some time in the program. Ziggy, played by Erica Jackson, is a very optimistic gal, but turns the other way at times. The problems that occur within the W.A.S.P. program is what really makes the storyline effective.

A friendship that stands out in the production is between Terry, played by Rebecca Overturf, and Sunny, played by Audrey Lee. Although they can get into fights, the secrets they share and the promises they make to each other really make their friendship a crowd favorite.

“I feel absolutely honored to bring this character to life for the first time,” said Overturf.

Michael Mueller, director of “W.A.S.P.”, was proud of the cast that night on how they really “pulled the show together with an overall nice flow”.

There were, however, the challenges that come with performing an all-new play.

“Feeling out where laughs come in and where the audience really needs that extra time to process different things that are going on is a learning process because nobody really knew where those things would fall,” Mueller explained.

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Women take time to relax from the pressures of the W.A.S.P. training by going to a dance. Pictured left to right (background): Ingrid Solis, Cindy Sanchez, Pingkan Putri, Rebecca Overturf. Pictured left to right (foreground): Erica Jackson and Ivy Gallardo. Photo credit: FC Theater Department

Although opening night technicalities were present along with a few fumbled lines, the actors gave it their all and achieved a successful worldwide premiere of the historical new play.

“W.A.S.P.” will have the same 14 actors every night of the performances, but there are two casts rotating between principal and ensemble roles every other night.

The second cast, known as “Cast A”, will consist of Joanne Svendsen taking the lead as Jackie, Morgan Clark as Ziggy, Samantha Green will play Terry, and Pingkan Putri as Sunny.

“W.A.S.P.” will continue with more performances from Dec. 7-9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Bronwyn Dodson Theatre. For more information, visit their website.