“Goblin Market” Shares Stories of Female Sexuality in the Victorian Era

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Fink’s senior work, a musical, was based on a poem published in 1862.

Fink’s senior work, a musical, was based on a poem published in 1862.

Ezra Nugiel

Ezra Nugiel

Fink’s senior work, a musical, was based on a poem published in 1862.

By EZRA NUGIEL

This weekend, Hepburn Zoo was transformed into the entrancing set of Goblin Market for Ashley Fink’s ’18.5 Senior 700 work presentation. The 65-minute production ran evening performances on April 12 and 13 and one matinee on April 14.

This piece was originally a narrative poem published in 1862 by Christina Rossetti. It was then adapted into a musical by Peggy Harmon and Polly Pen in 1987.

Goblin Market tells a story of two proper Victorian sisters, Laura (Fink ’18.5) and Lizzie (Katz ’21). The show is framed as a flashback. The two sisters, now grown women, return to their childhood nursery where they relive disturbing memories of their youth. The nursey transforms into a haunted glen where goblins seduce the sisters with luscious fruits and treats, employing clear allusions to Adam and Eve, forbidden fruit, and temptation.

The play explores how the women reconcile their adolescent sexually-charged fantasies with the world they now inhabit. Though many interpretations exist, it is generally accepted that this piece is commentary on the repression of female sexuality during the Victorian era.

The dialogue and lyrics in the show all come from the original poem. The show skillfully blends the enchanting imagery of the text into eerily beautiful melodies that form an abstract yet enticing storyline.

One of the most impressive parts about this production is that it is a two-woman show. Ashley Fink ’18.5 Charlotte Katz ’21 do not leave the stage for the show’s entire duration. The two actresses demonstrated remarkable stamina in their flawless vocal delivery and passion-driven performance.

Though there were only two actresses seen on stage, this production had a large team behind it. In addition to Fink and Katz, the production team also comprised a director (Connor Pisano ’18), musical director (Gareth Cordery ’20), costume designer (Merri McMahon ’18.5), lighting designer (Stephen Chen ’19.5), technical director (Ke Yu ’18), and sound designer (Caroline Harrison ’19.5). The show also featured three student musicians who provided accompaniment with piano (Gareth Cordery ’20), cello (Emily Han ’20), and viola (Jack DeBouter ’20). Fink and Pisano received college credit for their work.

After this weekend’s performances, I sat down with Charlotte Katz ’21 who plays Lizzie.

Q: “Can you tell me a little bit about the preparation process for this show?”

 “We spent a lot of time working through the text. There are so many different ways that you can interpret it. So, first we had to create a backstory first to justify all this weird stuff that was happening in the show. That probably took most of our time, creating a cohesive idea that supported our motives within the show. That was one of our toughest challenges, being clear and making specific moments” Katz said.

Q: “What was it like participating in an all student-run production?”

“At first it was a little intimidating. This was such a difficult piece to approach because it dealt with such abstract concepts. To do it all on our own was kind of hard and I think we had a little bit of trouble at first creating and solidifying a vision for what we wanted. But once we got the ball rolling it was really a cool experience to see us all grow and develop in our respective roles.”

“It was really cool doing this caliber of work my first year. It gave me a taste of what I’m gonna be faced with my senior year, whether that be in an acting thesis or independent project. To think what Ashley and Connor have accomplished, I was really impressed. It’s a super ambitious thing to take on. I feel like I’m spoiled now because I got to such a challenging but beautiful piece my first year” Katz said.

Congratulations to the entire team of Goblin Market on three polished and striking performances. Several other seniors are also presenting their thesis work in the upcoming weekends. The Middlebury College Department of Theatre and Dance is home to dedicated students who have worked tirelessly assembling their art. Be sure to go and support these awesome, completely student-run, productions.

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“Goblin Market” Shares Stories of Female Sexuality in the Victorian Era