Wirtz Center to premiere NU alum’s play ‘Be Mean to Me’ this weekend


Olivia Mofus/The Daily Northwestern

“Be Mean to Me” premieres Friday Nov. 18 at Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts.

Ashley Lee, Reporter

Northwestern alum Sofya Levitsky-Weitz’s (MFA in Writing for the Stage and Screen ‘15) original play “Be Mean to Me” will present five shows at the Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts this weekend.

“Be Mean to Me” follows characters Meril and Jean as they grow up from 17 to 27 years old. The story explores identity, trauma and the evolution of female friendship.

“(The play is about) the emotional labor and effort we put into our friendships with other girls and women in regards to the traumas that we face as young women and our relationship to men,” Levitsky-Weitz said. “Also, it’s (about) being a woman artist and trying to compare ourselves to male artists that we grew up admiring and revering.” 

Actor with microphone speaking.
Alum Sofya Levitsky-Weitz is the playwright for “Be Mean to Me.” (Olivia Mofus/The Daily Northwestern)

Communication sophomore Ella Stevens, who plays Jean, said the preparation opened her eyes to the enduring struggle of being a female artist. Women artists, professionals and college students alike, experience the power dynamics and inequalities in the art world, she said.

Communication sophomore Lola Bodé, who plays Meril, said she’s seen a shift in artistic portrayals of women in the last few years.

“To feel like I have a space to explore how my intersecting identities could be shown on the stage really excites me,” she said. “Though the female experience is such a unique one, there are dualities between everyone’s experiences.”

Two actors facing each other.
The play chronicles the relationship between best friends Meril and Jean. (Olivia Mofus/The Daily Northwestern)

Instead of using different actresses for the characters at different ages, Stevens and Bodé play the characters at both ages.

Director and theatre Prof. Halena Kays said the best part of the show’s preparation was conversations between the cast and crew members that brought the script to life.

“One of the most exciting parts of collaborating on the show and bringing it to life has been all of our voices coming together to talk about our experiences,” Kays said.

One actor lying on a couch and another actor slouching in a chair with a microphone in hand.
Friday’s show will feature a talkback with playwright Sofya Levitsky-Weitz and Director and theater Prof. Halena Kays. (Olivia Mofus/The Daily Northwestern)

Stevens hopes audiences will relate to her character as Jean grows up in “a raw and real way.”

Levitsky-Weitz said she appreciates the tradition of women writing about the personal matters of the heart, soul and relationships. Most of her work comes from a personal place that is relatable, deep and intimate, she added.

“A very specific thing to being women artists is where you’re able to use your personal life and allow it to become universal and relevant,” she said. “This play is an attempt at looking at that.” 

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Twitter: @ashley_yw_lee 

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