Stephens College play 'The Dixie Swim Club' explores bond among aging women

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 3:30 p.m. CST, Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Actors Olivia Howell, left, backs away from Simone Elyse, right, as she attempts to intimidate her during a rehearsal of "Dixie Swim Club" at Stephens College Warehouse Theatre on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009, in Columbia. The play's first performance is 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18, and will run though Saturday, Nov. 21.

COLUMBIA — In "The Dixie Swim Club," a play that opens Wednesday at Stephens College, five women get together every August at a beach house in North Carolina with three rules: No men, no work, no kids.

As the show opens, four of the women are waiting for the last — a nun. When she arrives, they realize she is pregnant.


What: "The Dixie Swim Club"

When: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday

Where: Warehouse Theatre, Stephens College

Tickets: $6 to $8; go to to purchase

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That's just the beginning of the tangled relationships that unfold throughout the play, which was written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten. It runs through Saturday.

"The Dixie Swim Club" is a production of the Warehouse Theatre, which showcases plays for women, by women and about women. The theater supports four plays a year, all student-run. This is the second in the season,which opened in October with "Ladies at the Alamo" by Paul Zindel.

In the current play, a group of women who bonded on the college swim team experience the pains of growing older. The five friends, though very different, have similarly tangled lives.

One is an aggressive lawyer, who scares men away. Another is a hyper-organized health enthusiast; a third is a ringer for Samantha in "Sex and the City." Another always shows up with a broken limb and a new story about her outlaw son.

"I think every woman will find a character that they can connect to," said Ashley Scoles, a senior theater major at Stephens College and the director of  the play.

One challenge for the actresses was the aging process in the play. Between scenes, they will quickly be transformed into their older selves using deftly applied makeup.

"I always compare it with Golden Girls," Scoles said, smiling.

The cast and crew said they have become close over the past month.

"We had great opportunities to bond," said Olivia Howell, who plays Sheree, the health enthusiast who once was swim team captain.

The play "reminds me of the relationships I want to have when I get out of college," Howell said.

She and the rest of the cast, all aspiring actresses, found a bit of themselves in each of the characters. In her case, it was a tie to her character's meticulous nature.

"She is kind of a lot like me," Howell said. "I like to make lists and be organized like her."

Jessica Gorman, who plays the pregnant nun, said acting challenges her to step out of her comfort zone.

"It's such a hard profession because you're expressing your soul," she said.

The rest of the cast includes Denise Saylor as the lawyer, Dinah; Simone Muller as Lexie, the flirt; and Katie Huffman as the physically inept Vernadette.

Gorman, the secretary of the Warehouse board, will direct "Some Girl(s)," the third Warehouse Theatre production this year.







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