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Women-led 'She Persisted' debuts at Carroll College

Posted at 10:10 AM, Dec 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-01 12:10:25-05

HELENA — From Lillian Hellman to Erin Riley students in Carroll College’s women in theater class blended their favorite female playwrights in their newest show “She Persisted.”

“Women weren’t allowed to be on the stage for theater and times have changed so much and I think it’s important to recognize those female playwrights that have made a big difference in the theatrical world,” said student actor Brooke Mcclenning.

"Little Women" scene in "She Persisted"

Since 2017 students have had total control over selecting the scenes, producing, directing, and performing the show.

The show title, “She Persisted,” is a slogan adopted by the feminist movement that comes from 2017, when Senate voted to stop Senator Elizabeth Warren from speaking during the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions as United States attorney general.

Student director Abigail Merz says female playwrights are no stranger to being silenced.

She said, “there was a study done that they sent out the exact same play to production companies. One was [said to be] written by a man and one was [said to be] written by a woman and the male written play was more often chosen even though it was the exact same play.”

This year, the 40 students have been working since the beginning of October, combining seven works from seven playwrights.

McClenning is a junior and played three different characters in three different scenes. She says performing plays by women is different for her than performing those by men.

“You get this specific picture that men create, you know. Like, let’s say a mean girl is this typical skinny blonde, really got a big attitude. With women, it’s different because they recognize the little things in women’s personalities and what it means. You get to portray more of yourself as a woman on stage, rather than when a man has created the scenes,” said McClenning.

"She Persisted"

This show has inspired McClenning to be more outspoken in her womanhood.

She said, “To move women to get out there and get out of their comfort zone and show how strong the world of women is.”

Performances run through December 2nd and tickets can be purchased at or one hour prior to the start of the show.