HAPPY GIRL takes a look at sexism and inequality amongst teen girls. Broadway Baby investigates.
Teenagers have this acute ability to feel and be affected by whatever is going on around them, and yet, without the ability to look back and see where these moments fell, they have very little comprehension of the significance of these reactions.
Tell us about your show
HAPPY GIRL is a play based on girls' own words and experiences that explores how we are conditioned as teen girls and what this means for our relationships as women. With girls growing up against everyday sexism, shouldn't we learn to be each others' allies rather than enemies? Yet it seems that for teen girls, it's the ourselves and our girlfriends we trust least.
Why did you decide to take your show to Space UK this year?
Crowded Nest is a company of A-Level Drama students from the St Marylebone CE School in London lead by writer/director Tracy Mathewson. Each year it is our task to devise a play that speaks directly to the students involved as a means of expression and performance of issues or ideas that, because they are voiced by teens, may not otherwise be listened to. This is a one-of-a-kind experience that St Marylebone School sponsors; for most of the drama students involved, this is their first time living with peers, away from home, and with it they get to experience the breadth of the Fringe stage and garner inspiration for their own future projects.
Previous company members have gained places at Cambridge University, LAMDA, Drama Centre, Central School of Speech and Drama, and Juilliard.
Have you brought a show to the festival before?
Last year's performance of TEENAGE DIRTBAG earned us a selection of 5-star audience reviews, published on TheList, Comedy.co.uk and on our EdFringe page. Our 2013 play SYNERGY earned 4 stars from Broadway Baby.
What makes your show unique amongst the thousands of others at the festival?
Teenagers have this acute ability to feel and be affected by whatever is going on around them, and yet, without the ability to look back and see where these moments fell, they have very little comprehension of the significance of these reactions. As a former teenager and director of the project, I've been able to sift through thoughts, feelings and memories in a way that they can't and present them in a way that speaks not just to teens – because they understand it – but to adults as well, because we've lived it. There's no use me writing about my experiences of being a teenage girl – those moments are already out of date. So what we have here, with HAPPY GIRL, is a very contemporary look at what it means to be a teenage girl in a culture where we are beginning to re-examine sexism and inequality, and the roles we previously ascribed as feminine, and not just what that means for pay inequality or maternity leave, but how this affects the women of the future: how this affects girls.
How did you create your show?
HAPPY GIRL was created over the course of 8 weeks of devising with Crowded Nest and then a period of writing/testing material pulled directly from those sessions. It was a question and answer process. We dove in, found a template, and then filled it out using the girls' own experiences and observations.
What’s the main thing you want to get out of the festival this year?
Every year the goal is the same: give our company the experience some performers only dream of. Give them a voice and a platform for the issues they are facing right now. Show them what it takes to take a show up to the Fringe, what it takes to publicise your show and gather an audience, the dedication it takes to perform day after day, whilst letting them explore and be inspired by the plethora of material on offer. It's teamwork, it's learning, it's inspiring, and above all, it's empowering.