No Girls Allowed! That was the rule in many professions until recent decades. Now the thought of telling a woman that she can’t be a fire fighter, a02-03-10-play-balls.gif business professional, an airplane pilot, a professional baseball umpire or anything else she wants to be seems ludicrous — at least in this country — but that wasn’t always the case.

Just decades ago, even the most competent of women were commonly denied access to fulfi lling their dreams regardless of their ambition, talent or skill level.

Gilbert Theater is taking on this topic with Play Balls, its third play of this theatrical season. A comedy based on the true-life experiences of Pam Postema and Bernice Gera, Play Balls is about a young woman trying to break into the male dominated world of professional baseball umpiring.

“It’s about more than baseball,” said Director Peter Bonilla.“It’s about breaking sexism. It’s about a woman’s journey trying to achieve a goal in a man’s business. It’s about Pam and her quest to be a professional major league ump and the hell she went through.

”There’s plenty of strong language to be had in the production as fans and umpires hurl obscenities at the main character, so Bonilla cautions that it is not a kid-friendly event, but adds that the story is inspiring, the acting is excellent and the show something that is worth seeing.

“She fought hard, really, really hard,” Bonilla said of Postema. “If you stink, you stink, but to say ‘Get back in the kitchen’? No way. She was a trailblazer women should look up to.

”Claudia Warga carries the lead as Lucy Posner, the fictional version of Postema/Gera. Jules Ollie Forde and Jim Darrien portray Ump 1 and Ump 2 as well as the other back up characters that harass and heckle Posner on her journey through the brutally competitive and chauvinistic world of umpiring.

Bonilla, who has spent the past 17 years in New York City, is no stranger to theater. He’s a professional actor, director, playwright, photographer and editor. Finding himself in Fayetteville for personal reasons, Bonilla sought an outlet for his creative energy and happened upon Gilbert Theater.

“I’m not sure how it started, Lynn Pryer and I got to talking and I mentioned that I am a big baseball fan,” said Bonilla. “Lynn said, ‘Hey I’ve got a book you should read.’ One thing led to another and I guess he liked what I brought to the table.

”The show runs Feb. 11 - Feb 28. Thursday through Saturday, show times are at 8 p.m. There is a matinee each Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 and reservations are highly encouraged. Visit www.gilberttheater.com or call 678-7186 for more information.

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