This November, Beloit Memorial High School’s theater program will present “Badger,” a show about five “Rosie the Riveter” type women who go to work at the Badger Ordnance Works near Sauk City during World War II, while the majority of men were off fighting in the war.
The play will run Nov. 10-13, with one of the shows coinciding with Veterans Day. The show is written by Janesville-born Don Zolidis, who is now a known playwright.
“I’m on the mailing list for the playwrights he sends out,” said Greg Wallendal, theatre director for the Beloit school district. “He sent it out and said here’s a new script for anyone who wants to use it. I’ve never seen it produced. (The play came out in 2019). That’s the reason why I chose it. I’m always looking for plays that feature women or plays written by women, because that’s who I have.”
“It’s a great story of women empowerment and the struggles that women dealt with at the time and still struggle with today,” Wallendal said. “He really just captures some realities of what women dealt with going into work alongside men in a time period when there was a great deal of overt sexism going on, as opposed to now we have more covert sexism. The play deals with the wage gap and we’re still dealing with the gap today.”
One of the main character’s in the play is Barbara whose husband is fighting in the war while she raises their child at home and goes to work in the factory with the other women. Junior Sofia Romero plays Barbara and enjoys playing a motherly role in the production.
“The play centers around women, but I think my motherly role brings out a different point of view,” Romero said. “With her husband at war and her working in a factory, it shows the mental aspect of what a wife goes through when her husband’s at war, and just everyday battles.”
Romero is looking forward to the audience being up close and personal with the cast during this play. For the production, the seats will be right on stage with the cast and characters of Badger.
Senior Abigail Grenawalt plays Irene. She describes Irene as a confident character who decides the women should go on strike after discovering the men at the factory make more than the women.
“She decides that she wants to be the boss lady and take over and do a strike,” Greanawalt said. “I like her and she’s very powerful.”
Director Wallendal is happy to have found a show perfect for his cast.
“I needed a show that featured women and I love doing something about women empowerment,” he said. “I think that’s really powerful. It’s great for the kids to see that and play those characters. I think they don’t see that enough in the rest of our society.”
Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 10 and 12 and at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 13. Shows are at Elizabeth Reinholz Theater, 1225 Fourth St. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors and $8 for the general public.