Earlham’s Production of Tipping the Velvet

Profile: A Farewell to Betsy Schlabach
May 15, 2021

Earlham’s Production of Tipping the Velvet

By Andrew Aide, ’24

Showings of the play Tipping the Velvet will occur at Wilkinson Theatre at Runyan Center on November 19th and 20th at 7 P.M. 

Originally written by Sarah Waters and adapted by Laura Wade, Earlham’s production of Tipping the Velvet is the capstone project of four seniors: Tabitha Walters ‘21, Ruthie Reichman ‘21, Chiara Bowker ‘21, and Madi Eads ‘21.

Lynne Perkins Socey, Convener in the Department of Theatre Arts and Associate Professor, says, “I believe they [the seniors] selected this script because they felt the story would have an especially strong resonance with Earlham College students and because the story-telling style includes heart-warming moments, music, moments of absurd comedy (and sex toys), and the opportunity for some audience sing-alongs.”

Socey also mentions that Tipping the Velvet provided Earlham’s first opportunity for collaboration with an Intimacy Director, Gaby Labotka, whose trade Socey calls “much needed.” 

Labotka’s personal website describes this role to be “Adhering to Intimacy Directors International’s Pillars and the Chicago Theatre Standards, she collaborates with all artists in the room to honor story without compromising anyone’s personal boundaries, ensuring constant and clear communication and consent throughout the process.”

The need for comfort in theatrical expressions of intimacy are indeed important for Tipping the Velvet’s cast: the promotional poster describes the play as a “sexually explicit adaptation of the novel,” in which the protagonist Nancy (played by Tabitha Walters) falls in love with a “male impersonator” and navigates her identity and place in the city. 

Bowker, lighting director, says, “Personally, I picked this show because I was drawn to the show and the queer narrative. It’s also a fairly complicated show tech-wise and I wanted that experience. I want the audience to resonate with Nancy (the main character) and come away having learned something.”

Bowker’s efforts in lighting are supported by Madi Ead’s work as stage manager and Ruthie Reichman’s costume design.

Tickets and additional information can be found at EventBrite.com under the Earlham College Events page. They run at $10 for adults, $5 for students, and $5 for senior citizens. Doors open 30 minutes prior to the play’s start, and masks are required for attendance.

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