Review: CSC's World Premiere Turning Addresses Antipathy Toward Women in Olympic Sports

by Jane Primerano (NJ Arts Maven)

The latest result of the Centenary Stage Company’s Women Playwrights Series made its world premiere in a socially-distanced Sitnik Theater at Centenary’s Lackland Center on Feb. 25.

 

While it was strange to sit in the Sitnik at less than half capacity and surrounded by yellow caution tape, the unusual circumstances didn’t take anything away from Darrah Cloud’s Turning.

Turning in this case is a term for gymnastics that this reviewer had to look up. Turners were members of German-American gymnastics clubs called turnverein. The clubs existed from the early 19th Century and helped German immigrants assimilate in the New World.

 

 

These “turners” were three young women on their way to Germany. They were the first US Olympic Gymnastic Team.

 

Women in sports were pretty much invisible until Babe Didrikson, one of history’s best all-around athletes, burst onto the scene in the early 1930s.

 

Cloud was commissioned to write a play about some resident of Hackettstown and, when she discovered Ada Lunardoni, she also found just how little information exists on women in athletics.

Review: 'Turning' New Play About Gymnastics Sticks the Landing with Powerful Final Scene

by Jay Lustig (NJArts.net)

The three main characters of “Turning” — which will be presented through March 7 with social distancing precautions at the Lackland Performing Arts Center in Hackettstown — can perform impressive gymnastic moves. But they can’t dance. At least at the moment, as the play starts.

They’re female American Olympic athletes, attending a ball on the ocean liner that is taking them to compete in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, and the guys never ask them to dance. Why, we never learn. Maybe just shyness. But Ada (Taylor Congdon), Jennie (Emily Williams) and Mary (Ally Borgstrom) wait — talking, drinking and horsing around — for most of the play. In a running gag — literally, a running gag — Jesse Owens (Deonté Griffin-Quick), destined to be the hero of the Games, races by every once in a while, training by doing laps on the ship while everyone else is partying.