by Rita Charleston
“Rapture, Blister, Burn” is playwright Gina Gionfriddo’s look at generations of women and the paths they take through life. Running at Allens Lane Theatre through Oct. 9, the play includes discussions of the history of the women’s movement and the lives that helped shape the movement, from Phyllis Schlafly and slasher films, Betty Friedan to pornography.
For Fort Washington’s Maia Baird, who takes the role of Catherine, pursuing those angles took a lot of research. After all, she’s only 22 years old and doesn’t remember the beginnings and all the struggles of the movement. “But I definitely am profiting from the results,” she says. “And it was our director, Maurizio Giammarco, who gave us all packets of material to help us understand what was going on at the time and some of the major players.”
The story revolves around Catherine, her roommate Gwen, and Don, Catherine’s boyfriend. But eventually, Catherine chooses career over romance and heads for London. There she begins to build a career in gender studies and feminism, with particular focus on the politics of pornography within the women’s movement and degradation of women in the internet age.
Meanwhile, back home Gwen marries Don. They have two sons, and Gwen becomes a stay-at-home mom. As the play opens, Baird explains, “Catherine returns home, supposedly concerned over her mother’s recent heart attack. Catherine connects with her two old friends, and the action begins from there. The play begins to question what constitutes success.
“Is it a career that allows you to make lots of money, or is it settling down, finding a husband and raising a family. Catherine and Gwen represent both sides of the coin. Making money has always been the most important thing in Catherine’s life, but now, facing the loss of her mother, she’s beginning to have regrets and second thoughts about the choices she’s made.”
A graduate of Upper Dublin High School and Hofstra University, Baird was always interested in acting, starting with dressing up and pretending to play-act with her sister. “Then, when I was in the third grade, I attended a theater camp. I got to play Little Red Riding Hood in ‘Into the Woods.’ That was my first real taste of acting, and I think that did it.”
Graduated from college this last May, Baird, who had been in many productions in school, has returned home to Fort Washington and is trying her best to break into the Philadelphia theater scene. This is her debut at Aliens Lane, and she hopes there will be many more opportunities.
“Today, I definitely identify with feminism,” Baird concludes. “I’m now living at home with my parents and looking forward to working with the major theater companies here. It’s a thrilling time for me, and I hope it never ends.”
For more information, call 215-248-0546.