The Daily Northwestern

Imagine U production of ‘When She Had Wings’ to present show for all ages

Eunice Lee, Reporter

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For most girls, turning ten years old just means growing up. But for an aspiring pilot named B., it means being able to fly just like her hero: Amelia Earhart.

Suzan Zeder’s “When She Had Wings” tells the story of a nine-year-old girl who is on a mission to fly before her tenth birthday. The production, presented by Imagine U, will run Feb. 24 through March 10 at the Hal & Martha Hyer Wallis Theater.

While Imagine U productions are usually geared toward children and their families, director Rives Collins expressed his enthusiasm for a story that is relevant to people of all ages.

Collins said seeing an audience where three generations are gathered to experience a work of theater together is “beautiful.” The audience demographic at Imagine U productions is unlike any other on campus, he said, and “When She Had Wings” tells a story that brings everyone together.

“The story is powerful for college students and children, and it’s thought-provoking for the parents and grandparents,” Collins said. “It’s great to do a play that’s about something that has, at its core, a worthy idea.”

Communication sophomore and Imagine U player Delia Cunningham said this show is especially meaningful because it presents an implicit discussion of topics like body image issues and women in STEM fields.

Cunningham said “When She Had Wings” encourages young women to pursue their goals, no matter what obstacles society throws their way.

“We constantly think that our weight, whether that be physical or mental, needs to leave because it holds us back or drags us down,” Cunningham said. “But really, those things could actually be necessary to propel us upward, and that’s such a beautiful message for everyone to hear.“

Communication junior and Imagine U player Mia Nevarez, who plays B., also praised the show’s conversations about body image that young women and girls engage in. Girls even younger than nine experience insecurities and struggles with body image, Nevarez said, so it is important to have those conversations early.

Nevarez explained that B. associates her tenth birthday with double digits, which look “heavier.”

“The two digits of B.’s age connect to a lot of body image issues she has about herself. She thinks that if she has two digits, both her age and her self will be too heavy to fly and pursue her dreams,” Nevarez said. “I think it’s important to talk about body image with young women at a younger age than people typically start speaking about them.”

Nevarez added that the story highlights confidence, perseverance and the knowledge that everyone is enough just as they are.

Though the issues raised in the play are serious, Communication sophomore Emmet Smith said the play does not “dumb-down or over-pander” to young audiences. Smith, who plays a Wing Folk in the production, added that adults also have a lot to learn about body image and growing up in general.

Smith expressed his excitement to finally share “When She Had Wings” with an audience. He added that working collaboratively to produce a dynamic piece that is simultaneously inspiring and playful was a “special experience.”

“I’ve seen this show a thousand times, and it’s still so amazing,” Smith said. “I just can’t wait to witness people watch the show for the first time, and we hope to recreate that atmosphere of childhood wonder.”

Email: eunicelee2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @byeunicelee

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