SPECIAL TO THE TRIBUNE
It’s not the usual comedic fair selected for a high school theater performance, but Dan Heath thinks “Reviving Ophelia” is an important story that needs to be heard.
Heath is the Great Bend High School theater teacher and director of the play that delves into the precarious world of the adolescent girl.
“The play is an inside glimpse at how unrealistic cultural expectations can be linked to body image issues, bullying among girls, drug and alcohol abuse and early sexual misbehavior,” Heath said.
“At least we’re starting to talk about some of the issues in ways that we didn’t in the early ‘90s, and I hope the theatrical adaptation of this important book contributes to the dialogue.”
Based on “Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls,” one of the seminal nonfiction books of this time, the play is the gripping story of four teen-age girls battling the corrosive influences of popular culture as each searches for the personal North Star that will guide her home.
Jill is a Native American girl adopted by white parents. Her drinking, truancy and bad attitude are turned around in an unexpected way.
Allie, a pastor’s daughter, faces a crisis of faith at a mother-daughter book club when her friend, Lia, loses her mother to cancer.
The scene between Lia and her boyfriend, Alex, harkens back to Hamlet’s “Get thee to a nunnery” as Alex exposes the scary part of his personality that he has carefully kept hidden.
Beautiful Dawn approaches high-school graduation with the realization that she’s not prepared for anything, but attracting guys. Her solution is to attempt to down 18 Jell-O shots to celebrate her 18th birthday.
Playwright Cherie Bennett, specifically chosen by Dr. Mary Pipher to adapt her work, deftly leavens the drama with humor, tracing the intertwining lives of these four girls from first grade through middle school, and then through high school to graduation and young adulthood.
“As a society, we need to stop telling women what to be and to embrace them for who they are,” Heath said. “That’s the key.”
“To help keep the intimate nature of the play, we will be limiting our seating to 100 seats per performance,” Heath said.
“We will put up curtains to shrink the size of our auditorium to the first 100 seats,” he explained. “To make sure everyone gets a chance to see the show, we are adding an extra performance on Saturday night.”
The cast and crew include Julia Walker, Michelle Rooney, Andre’ Parks, Chris Falck, Mary Beouy, Malia Clark, Kiley Flint and Jesus Sandoval; Brittani Wiers, stage manager; Niki Helms, assistant stage manager; Dan Heath and Andy Negaard, directors.