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Lipstick Theatre production explores struggles of being a teenage girl

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Communication senior Marin Nass stars as Leslie in Lipstick Theatre’s fall mainstage production. “Be Aggressive” premieres Thursday in Shanley Pavilion.

Communication senior Marin Nass stars as Leslie in Lipstick Theatre’s fall mainstage production. “Be Aggressive” premieres Thursday in Shanley Pavilion.

Allie Goulding/The Daily Northwestern

Allie Goulding/The Daily Northwestern

Communication senior Marin Nass stars as Leslie in Lipstick Theatre’s fall mainstage production. “Be Aggressive” premieres Thursday in Shanley Pavilion.

Catherine Kim, Reporter

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Lipstick Theatre’s fall mainstage production will explore gender stereotypes and track the journey of finding one’s identity as a teenage girl.

“Be Aggressive,” which premieres Thursday in the Shanley Pavilion, tells a story of loss and how it propels two 17-year-old girls to move away the “complete lack of personhood” that characterizes them in the beginning of the show, director Delaney Burlingame said.

The play focuses on the characters’ “burning need” to fit in, Burlingame, a Communication senior, said. She added that the ongoing pressure to achieve an unattainable status quo is a recurrent pattern in the production, and many audience members who may have experienced this pressure as a teenager can relate to other themes of the play.

Communication senior Marin Nass, who plays one of the lead characters, Leslie, said she looked back into her own teenage years to recollect memories of trying to struggle through high school cliques, just like her character does.

“Leslie has a lot less money,” she said. “She lives in a very rich neighborhood but doesn’t have the finances, but she puts on this fake allure. And I grew up very similarly as a West Sider who went to school in the Upper East side of New York.”

The negative cultural conceptions associated with female teenage rituals can make it difficult for the young characters to express themselves without receiving any criticism, Burlingame said. From teenage pop idols to cheerleading practices, the interests of teenage girls are often torn apart and made fun of as a norm in society, she said.

“It’s so easy to tear down the things that are important to (young women),” she said. “They are just expected to grow up to be good wives and read beauty magazines, and we send them into this materialistic culture that they’ve been bred in.”

Nass added that she hopes the audience finds the need to find their own paths in life after watching the production.

In the play, the characters eventually overcome the gender oppressions of society and emerge as leading figures in their personal lives. However, this only takes place after this sense of connection is established among the characters, producer Hale McSharry said.

“We wanted to have narratives about women coming together,” McSharry said. “We are really glad we’re doing this play that is not about one woman living her life and finding love or one woman beating the odds and fighting the system. It’s about multiple women who are sticking together when life becomes tough. That’s what makes this play so different.”

“Be Aggressive” parallels Lipstick Theatre’s mission statement to examine how women come together in crises. The theater board, which is a member of the Northwestern Student Theatre Coalition, has always been dedicated to providing a platform for dialogue surrounding women’s issues and more opportunities for female artists, McSharry said.

Lipstick Theatre started in 2013 as an effort to provide more female representation in the student theater community on campus. The student group joined StuCo January this year.

“I hope the audience comes out of (the play) with a new appreciation for a bond of sisterhood, and a female friendship, the bonds of families, the bonds of community coming together,” McSharry said.

Email: catherinekim2020@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @ck_525

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