BWW Interview: Whitney White on Alexis Scheer's Fierce New Play and Unlocking Feminine Power
In this fierce world premiere comedy from WP Theater and Second Stage, a gang of teenage girls gathers in an abandoned tree house to summon the ghost of Pablo Escobar. Their journey doesn't stop there, as they embark on a roller coaster ride through the confusion, danger, and unpredictability of girlhood.
BroadwayWorld had the unique opportunity to chat with director, Whitney White, about her goals for striking balance with the content and infusing humor; her unique artistic process; and some of the greatest lessons she's learned about girlhood from the cast.
Sounds like the material keeps audiences on the edge of their seats! What were some of the goals for you, with striking the balance for the content?
I do think that humor is such an important survival topic. For me, it all starts with the text and Alexa [Scheer], our playwright, is so wonderful and great to work with. The script throws audiences into a tree house, where there are four girls all dealing with their own personal traumas.
I've learned so much from working with our teenage cast! They are so hilarious and each unique in their own way.
Can you talk a little bit about the portrayal of girls in this play and how this stage of their lives impacts their experience?
I did a lot of memory exercises to think about those major adolescent moments, like first kisses and drama with friends, and took a trip down memory lane. This show is also set in 2008, when Obama was elected, and the girls are dealing with living in a post 9/11 world.
A huge piece of this topic of girlhood is also related to the parenting aspect and how teenage girls are being educated about their bodies; sex; and growing up in general. Ultimately, there is so much to discover on your own and pivotal moments of learning. It's so important to talk to teenage girls about the world around them and be straight with them.
Describe your experience working with your cast and what has made the artistic process unique.
I really wanted the girls to unlock their feminine power and feel confident when it comes to navigating this confusing journey and figuring things out for themselves, without always feeling sheltered or fearful.
Our young actresses are so wonderful and so dedicated, as this script demands a lot. I approach directing by asking how this will live in the body and testing out different ideas. We all have a seat at the table and take time to discuss the material and reflect on our own experiences. My greatest hope is to bring art closer to all and tell the kinds of stories that are most important.
Our Dear Dead Drug Lord runs through January 5th.
Photo Credit: Shira Friedman