Theater Department’s new musical

Pat Bowden

The Theatre Department’s “I Married Wyatt Earp” features  an all-female cast performing the first and only modern production of the play “I Married Wyatt Earp” to portray the lives of women in the 1700 and 1800s, who historically were not typically written about in plays. The production will be a musical running from Feb. 17 until Feb. 23.

The play was picked out by Assistant Professor of Theatre Sue Klemp, who was originally seeking out plays written by American women playwrights.

“The play really looks at a dramatized form of what the lives of women in that time period were like with a focus on women who were wives, partners and associates of the Earp brothers and other Tombstone (Arizona) names,” Klemp said. “The big difference is that we’re doing the newly revised version of it, so I’ve been working in conjunction with the playwrights, so I’ve been brought into that process.”

Klemp said it’s convenient to have a living playwright reviser so if there’s any question in the script, all she has to do is email or call them to clarify.

“It allows us to be another set of eyes for typographical errors or things that they overlooked when revising,” said Klemp. “It’s also unique because it’s looking at the women in this time era, which usually isn’t focused on [by other playwrights].”

This will be the theatre’s second play this season that has been in partnership with a living playwright, according to Klemp.

The cast of women featured have been preparing and rehearsing since before winter break and are eager to perform what they’ve been working on.

“We are beyond excited to share the story of these incredible women with SDSU and the surrounding Brookings Area,” said cast member and properties supervisor Danielle Wermedal, who will be portraying the older Josephine Earp. “Preparing for this production has been a great experience from the initial research, to bringing these women to life on stage it has been a honor to tell their stories, and to show a different side of history.”

The play focuses on the lives of women in the Age of Industrialization – specifically of Josephine Earp, wife of Wyatt Earp, who was a famed man in his time, and Allie Earp, Wyatt Earp’s brother’s wife.

“Not only is there not a lot written about women in this time period, but we also have the overlay of a lot of legend and a lot of the facts are stretched so the men in these stories kind of overshadow in a larger way,” Klemp said. “The women here seem to be women who wanted to do something different than be something other than a farmer’s wife or mother, and so their choices were somewhat limited … [they] took risks by going out into the world by contrast of what a normal woman would have done.”

According to Wermedal, working with an all woman cast has been a different experience for her, as this is the first all woman cast she’s been in.

“Working with this incredibly talented cast of women has been phenomenal. They are so supportive and are always willing to work together – I could not ask for a better cast,” Wermedal said.

I Married Wyatt Earp not only takes place in the 1800s but also jumps forward and backward in Josephine’s life to show how things developed over time.

“The beauty in this production comes from the blending of the past, present and future. In most traditional shows you have one time, one setting, but in this production it takes you on a journey through the memories of Josie and Allie,”
Wermedal said. “It starts with their present and moves through their memories of the past, and ends with these two women looking forward to a better and brighter future.”

Klemp is proud of her cast’s effort that each person put into putting together the show, and she hopes that others will also appreciate the production.

“The energy that people have been expending show that they’re excited for the show … People are very busy working on it and the whole process is intriguing people because it’s set in two different eras so it can give people insight to those eras,” Klemp said.

Each of the production’s performances will be followed up by a post-show discussion with the playwrights themselves, which is being funded by the South Dakota Humanities Council and the Women in Giving program.

“We are going to have these post show discussions with the playwrights and modified by the faculty on campus,” Klemp said. “So they will have different ways of approaching the discussion.”