Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hello. Victoria Valentine, I play Girl 2: Stoner Chick in the ensemble of New Line Theatre’s upcoming regional production of Heathers: The Musical. Welcome to this short blog introduction to  my explorations through this process.

Why this show now?

My senior thesis from my BFA undergraduate degree continues into a career thesis; an investigation into the role of musical theatre and theatre in rehumanization. I coined this term for myself as an entrance into the interrogation of the responsibility of theatre as a live art form to reconnect humanity. "How can my work in performance give at least a little bit of the audience back to themselves?" 

So for me, Heathers is a natural next step. It was released in ‘89 as a response to a decade of “Me” opposing “We” culture. Pieces that are also so deeply connected to nostalgia can give artists an effective entry into opening up audiences as well. Too often we see nostalgia being used basely for ticket sales, and yes we need people in the seats for the form to survive, but we must also remember as an active choice how we are electing to function as a form. If we do that audiences will come. (It is especially exciting for me to be engaged with New Line Theatre in my first production here in St. Louis; their history is one of challenging their audiences and giving life to stories that should to be witnessed and may not otherwise have the opportunity to be due to commercial popularity.)

Heathers butts heads with the glamorization of violence in American popular culture, and utilizes suburbia for its setting to get at us where we live our everyday lives in one of the most emotionally heightened and tumultuous environments there is, high school. The effect of the original movie on Laurence O’Keefe (book writer/composer/lyricist) was “cathartic. It helped me realize I wasn’t alone; helped me deal with my own adolescent bewilderment and resentment and hope; and taught me to think about how to treat people and myself better” (“A Modest Proposal, or, You Want Me To Adapt What?”), a beautiful moment I would be grateful to share with audiences.

Will this experience still ring true in 2015? What does this show mean in a post-Columbine America?  These are questions that O’Keefe had in development and I can't wait to investigate them myself with the audiences of St. Louis who will take the leap with us; I dare you.