BWW Interview: All-Girl Theater Company's Founders Katie Cappiello & Meg McInerney Talk SLUT, THE PLAY, Opening Today at FringeNYC
The All-Girl Theater Company, founded by two NYU Tisch grads, Katie Cappiello and Meg McInerney, has garnered the attention of some of the most influential women in America with their past productions - including Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, and Amy Poehler. But the duo, along with the the company's group of 14-17 year old girls, are completely focused on a new venture: SLUT, THE PLAY.
SLUT, which opens today at the New York Fringe Festival, and runs through August 25, takes on topical issues from teenage sexual assault to slut-shaming. With a script by Cappiello and McInerney, the show is inspired by the real-life stories of teenaged girls from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania - and performed by them, as well.
SLUT, THE PLAY is officially billed as: "On a cold New York City night in January, Joey Del Marco puts on her favorite dress, her highest heels, and meets up with her good guy friends George, Luke, and Tim for a little pre-gaming. They hang out, play video games, dance, and drink an entire bottle of Absolut. Everything is typical hazy teenage fun--until they all squeeze into the back of a cab... Inspired by the real world and real-life experiences of the cast members, SLUT bravely explores the sexual assault and slut-shaming of a 16-year-old girl. Through Joey's story and those of girls in her community, audiences will witness the profound power and damaging impact of slut culture."
BroadwayWorld was fortunate enough to chat with Katie and Meg ahead of the show's opening today. Below, check out what they had to say on founding the All-Girl Theater Company, bringing SLUT to the stage, and more!
The All-Girl Theater Company seems like something incredibly special. Where did the inspiration to get it up-and-going come from?
Katie: "Well, we were both teaching and acting. And we both weren't 100 percent feeling our current situations. We knew that we wanted to do something more creative - we wanted to create a space where kids were creating their own content and learning to share their voices, along with getting really good acting training. When we were [young], we would have liked to have a space with others girls to be fun and safe, open and honest. We never had that, and we thought the theatre would be the perfect way to launch something like that.
How did the idea for SLUT, THE PLAY originate from?
Meg: "The idea came from the girls themselves. The way that the classes work is: the girls join the year-long program, and we meet once a week for about three hours, and it starts off with a lot of discussion and debate. And a lot of listening to what's going on with these girls. We all listen to what they're thinking about, what they're feeling, and what's happening to them on a day-to-day basis. From there, we start to pull out themes, and they do a lot of creative writing. And then they do some improv, and then we start to figure out character choices. And then Katie begins to write the script.
So when we started this play back in January 2012, we started to notice right away that these girls, who are 14-17 years old, start to talk a lot about sex and different pressures that they were feeling. And the word 'slut' just kept coming up over and over again - either because they were being called a slut, or they were calling other girls a slut. There was this distinct struggle between wanting to own their sexuality, using this word as a powerful thing and as a badge of honor, and then two seconds later, it's being used against them as a scarlet letter.
You both have spoken in the past about the risks of social and digital media in our culture - particularly on the issues that SLUT, THE PLAY deals with and in the lives of girls. What exactly do you think it perpetuates?
Katie: Oh, yes, it does absolutely. Kids are being targeted 24/7. You don't leave school, and everything shuts down. You leave school, you go home, and everything continues - throughout all hours of the night...It never ends. They're all protected by a screen. It's there, and it's permanent.
What kind of impact do you see these things having on the girls - and other teenagers - on a personal level?
Katie: I think it's just the constant struggle to not only maintain your image in real life, but also your image online. I think sometimes girls feel like they're valued for their sexuality. So they're prompted to post provocative posts or send provocative texts. They're rewarded for it. But the problem is, they're rewarded for it until they're not. Until that text gets forwarded. Until they're slut shamed for that picture. It's this very interesting paradox that they're living.