By Beth Casteel
The atmosphere in the room is light as the girls of Cleveland State’s production of “Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World,” prepare themselves for one of their weekly rehearsal sessions.
Time is ticking for the ladies. The show is scheduled to run from February 22 through March 4. Even though the show is quickly approaching, the all female cast were nothing but smiles as they sit down in a circle to do a quick group interview.
The ladies range from freshmen to seniors, with varying backgrounds, but it doesn’t seem to phase any members of the cast. There’s a strong bond between them evident by merely observing their interactions with one another.
As soon as the interview begins, the girls introduce themselves and each take their turn to say who they are, ending their introductions by saying how much the cast means to them. It’s a driving point that sets the tone for the rest of the interview, which shows how open and close this cast really is with one another.
“The show itself is incredible, but the thing I was most excited for was having a group of people to talk [the material out] with, because I feel like this is such a show of communication,” Madelyn Voltz, a member of the ensemble, said. “We’ve all cried in front of each other, we break down.
That’s the part that makes us the most connected and the most human and I love we get to discover that together.”
The monologues are taken and created by Eve Ensler, the creator of the well-known, “The Vagina Monologues.” The stories are inspired from girls around the world, often shedding light on things that people don’t necessarily like confronting themselves.
The stories that are told are from the perspective of different girls around the world, often dealing with topics like anorexia, peer pressure, sex slavery and pregnancy.
The play’s subject matter is performed as a collage of different communication styles. It has scenes, songs, a dance party, even a chat room. With such a mix of styles, the play doesn’t have one set stage direction, rather it’s up to the actor’s interpretation of what’s going on.
“There’s really no stage directions in this show, so everything is said through the actor’s feelings because it doesn’t tell you how to say it or what to do,” Sophie Costanzo, who plays Girl Six, said. “The way that Holly [the director] has been having our rehearsals set up is very useful as compared to the other shows I’ve been in. We work so much on just little sections sometimes because every single little part and every little piece of this show is so important and I think it’s really nice we spend so much time on every little detail of it.”
The girls especially try to highlight the fact that they are the voice of someone who may not be able to speak up about something they have gone through. It’s an important fact for the girl’s in this production. They want to send out a message to people that the topics bridge what is going on in the world around us.
“I think it’s a mouthpiece for all the women who can’t speak for themselves,” said Brittany Ozanich, who plays Girl Five. “When you look at the stories some of these girls tell, some of these women are in situations where they could actually be killed if they were to speak up about the things that they have gone through and I think it’s very important that we tell these stories because people need to know this is what life is — this is what’s actually happening.”
With the nature of the production, it was pretty clear that the ladies would have to be open with one another early in the rehearsal process. The material in this production is raw and emotional, which forced the girls to get comfortable with one another quickly.
“We know each other so well now and we’ve cried in front of each other. You have to trust each other and it’s so nice to trust everybody with all these vulnerabilities,” Brooke Myers, who plays Girl Four, said. “Some of the material in this is like a raw nerve, and it’s just painful and emotional. To be able to feel that and put that out there for everybody to just absorb and take in and feel safe doing it. That’s incomparable to anything I’ve ever experienced.”
With rehearsals nearing an end for the ladies and the show about to officially start, there’s still a lot of work to be done. According to Holly Holsinger, the director of the production, the group will move to the Helen Theater (inside the Playhouse Square Allen Theater) about a week before the show’s opening date.
The costumes and stage design are in the process of being created and Holsinger already has an idea of what she wants the end result to look like. With help from a videographer and projection artist giving extra pizazz to the music being played and with a stage that’s decorated with a series of platforms, the design will compliment the stories.
It’s going to be an up close and intimate experience, something the girls of the production are excited about. With such a close setup, it’s going to give the cast a chance to tell their character’s story and make sure their voices are heard — which is one of the most important things they hope will be taken away from this play.
Hoping it will be a conversation starter and a chance to empower women, the girls in this production are trying to send a positive and educational message to the audience.
“I think this piece of work gives a voice to the oppressed, the abused, people who are just terrified. Struggling. I relate to this piece so much and it helps me to see that I’m not alone in the things I’ve experienced,” Myers said. “Being with these beautiful people that I can trust. That is the most beautiful thing to come out of this.”