Eliot Circular

Theater Department Stages Insurrection

Photo by Elliott Leffler

In the midst of the presidential election last year, Reed’s theatre department staged an insurrection—Paris Commune, a musical by Steven Cosson and Michael Friedman about the political turmoil in France in 1871, when struggling workers banded together with the Paris guard and formed a self-government that lasted for 10 weeks.

“I first discovered Paris Commune last spring, in the midst of a heated primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders,” wrote director Prof. Elliot Leffler [theatre 2014–] in the program notes. “For the first time in a long time, Americans were talking passionately about the prospect of a political revolution to upend the economic inequality plaguing our society. This play—chronicling an event that took place 145 years ago and 5,000 miles away—seemed powerfully resonant.”

The play made creative use of historical documents, like the diary of the anarchist Louise Michel (played by Ashlin Hatch ’16) and the anonymous radical newspaper Père Duchêne (Madhav Pulle ’19), and punctuated with a history of labor told through the can-can. Elliot Menard ’19, who played the Soprano, gave a noteworthy musical performance, as did the entire the cast. The inimitable John Vergin ’78 served as musical director and played piano.