May 26th, 2019

‘Girls Like That’ show explores cyber-bullying


By Mabell, Dave on May 15, 2019.

Herald photo by Ian Martens
Cast members run through a scene from New West Theatres production of Girls Like That, opening today at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre. @IMartensHerald

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

High school girls are the victims. But there’s seemingly little parents or teachers can do to save them from the devastating impact of cyber-bullying.

Possibly a true-to-life drama, opening tonight in Lethbridge, will at least spur public discussion.

“Girls Like That,” a look at how teenagers are bullied through today’s social media, will continue through Saturday and resume May 22-25 in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre at the Yates.

The New West Theatre production is recommended for ages 14 and up.

While audiences see how gossip and put-downs are an ongoing focus of the teenagers’ lives, the consequences are devastating when a naked photo of one of the girls turns up online.

Once it’s been posted, it will never disappear.

“It is a look at how the technology can help or harm us,” says director Sharon Peat.

“In the end, it’s the audience being challenged.”

Peat has assembled a cast of 10, largely drama students at the University of Lethbridge, including two professionals from Calgary serving as mentors.

One of the Lethbridge performers, Mataya Mikuliak confirms the cellphone-based bullying is just at pervasive here as the drama indicates. And it involves high school boys as well.

“Teenagers feed off the energy of each other,” she adds.

When it comes to online bullying, Mikuliak says, “Everyone is bolder behind the screen.”

It’s when a photo of a naked male student shows up online that audiences will see how ingrained gender stereotypes remain in teens’ lives.

The script, by Canadian playwright Evan Placey, pulls no punches.

It deals with gender equality, feminism and self-esteem as well as the dangers of peer pressure.

“It’s very well written,” Peat says, with several monologue sections setting the scene. But though it won a Writers’ Guild Award as best play for young audiences, she says it’s been staged in Britain but seldom in Canada.

“There’s a strong message for boys as well,” she adds.

The one-act drama uses video images, designed by Stefanie Desrochers, to build on the minimalist set. Choreography is by Claire Lint, lighting design by Rob Stanford.

“Girls Like That” is set for 7:30 p.m. nightly, with a question and discussion period planned after Thursday’s performance.

Tickets are available from Ticket Centre locations at the Yates and the Enmax Centre.

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