By Rachel Kuhnle
Rehearsing and performing Boeing Boeing sure is fun, but it’s a far cry from doing important, radical, earthshaking theatre… Or is it? Rachel here, looking for the feminist silver lining is a very unexpected place – the French farce Boeing Boeing.
One might assume feminism and farce are like oil and water, and sure, most of the time that probably is the case. But the women of Boeing Boeing are not to be underestimated – Gloria, Gretchen, Gabriella, and yes, even Berthe, are actually great role models!
Boeing Boeing is one of very few period farces where the women outnumber the men.
This really is a big deal. Despite theatre audiences being between 70-80% women, and the majority of theatre students being women, female characters on stage amount to only about 35% of all available roles. Even the Commonweal Theatre’s 2019 season only has 12 female character roles out of 35 total roles.
All four women in the script are named.
This might seem silly, but it’s very common in media, especially in film and television, for female characters to go unnamed – some studies find as few as 32% of female characters in television and film are named.
Gretchen, Gabriella, and Berthe are bilingual.
Ok, mostly, I just think this is cool. But hey – I’m making an assumption. They could speak MULTIPLE languages, not just two!
All four women are employed, speak intelligently about their work, and find some degree of identity and satisfaction in their professions.
Considering only about 38% of the workforce in 1960s was female, for all four women to be employed is pretty progressive. Will they stay employed once they marry? Who cares – that’s their choice!
All four women are knowledgeable about advancements in their field.
Of course, who wouldn’t be excited about turbo jets and a thrust of 19 thousand pounds?? These women must read Popular Mechanics.
They know what they want, they don’t need to be told what they want.
Think of your favorite love stories – how many of them are a guy-gets-the-girl scenario? It can be fun to watch guys pursuing girls with grand romantic gestures, but in those instances the guy is always “in the driver’s seat” so to speak. In Boeing Boeing, the women drive the action! Bernard and Robert are lucky – if Gloria, Gabriella, Gretchen and Berthe didn’t tell Bernard and Robert exactly what they want, Bernard and Robert would still be rolling around in their beanbags. And Berthe is worth every penny of that additional 40%!