BWW Interview: All-Girl Theater Company's Founders Katie Cappiello & Meg McInerney Talk SLUT, THE PLAY, Opening Today at FringeNYC
Meg: The issue too is that they don't have control over that. Because it's now out in the public sphere, they don't get to dictate at which point the line has been crossed. And so the community gets to turn against them and tear them down to increase their own power.
SLUT takes on a really emotional and poignant issue. Do you think theater and the arts have a duty to make statements and attempt to change minds on these sort of things?
Meg: Yes. Absolutely yes. That's exactly why we do what we do, we think theater is the perfect place to do that. It's like: here are five girls, speaking their truth, and the reality of their generation, and you can't turn it off. You can't turn away, you have to sit their and watch it. It's extremely powerful.
Katie: The show is performed by the girls, the girls of our company. Some of them have never been in a play before. We don't audition. We want it to feel authentic. And the best way to represent the teen girl experience is to show the world of teen girls.
Did the girls seem to have any trepidation with opening up on stage?
Katie: No. That's the interesting thing. They genuinely believe in the importance of this message. I think they're determined to show the audience what it's like to spend a day as a teenage girl, growing up in a 'slut culture.' And I think they're excited to take this on.
It seems like it would make for a really authentic and raw experience.
Meg: Yes! That's exactly right. They're living and breathing and it's all there right in front of you.
It appears like the company is doing something right: you've attracted the attention of Gloria Steinem and Hillary Clinton and other extremely influential women, after all.
Katie: (Laughs.) Yeah, yeah. Like those you just mentioned, I think that's why people are responding. They're responding to these girls going up and their speaking their truth. There's humanity in it that everyone can sort of connect to. I think what the girls are saying isn't popular - like what these other women have said throughout their careers - and it makes people uncomfortable. It challenges people. And that's exactly what we believe theater should do. Yes, it should entertain, but you should also leave contemplating something. If you go to the theater and you don't leave changed, I guess I don't think it's really reached its full potential.
If a piece of theater isn't actively working to change something - then what's the point? It feels like something is missing.
Meg: Totally. It's not about preaching or giving solutions to problems. That's not our job. Our job is to just show the reality of it.
So the show opens [today] at the New York Fringe Fest - are there any plans after that to continue SLUT, THE PLAY?
Katie: Yeah! We are actually hosting, along with The New School, The Feminist Press, and Quality Now, a national conference on October 18-19. It's going to feature the play, a documentary, and also panels and discussions. It's great that the show is in a theater, but we also wanted to create a place to continue the discussion afterwards.
Meg: After getting into slut-shaming, we all sort of realized the complexity of all of this this. So it's important, if you want real change to happen, to be able to create a space where we can talk about it and all of the different components that lead us to his culture that we have.
Aside from the conference, what's next for The All-Girl Theatre Company?
Katie: We're partnering with some really wonderful women's organizations, and I think for now, the goal is to bring [SLUT, THE PLAY] around to different communities. We really admire The Vagina Monologues model...we see this as a great opportunity to engage girls all around the country with this issue. So that's in the works, and we'll see what happens!
Meg: We're just taking it one step at a time.
SLUT, THE PLAY runs at the Lynn Redgrave Theater, Fringe Venue #14, 45 Bleecker Street, beginning today, August 19 at 2pm. Additional performances include: Aug., 21 at 7:30pm, Aug. 22 at 5:30pm (followed by a talkback with the cast), Aug. 23 at 9:30pm, and Aug. 25 at 4:45pm.
For tickets, visit FringeNYC.org.