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Saint Mary's Theatre's 'Mean Girls' delights, educates
Mary Virginia Swain '77C

Saint Mary's Theatre Department's fall production, Mean Girls, Nov. 2-4, not only offered up a blockbuster school play – it offered the school an opportunity to use the themes of the play to examine and discuss important and timely social issues in the everyday lives of high school girls.


Saint Mary's Theatre Department's fall production, Mean Girls, Nov. 2-4, not only offered up a blockbuster school play – it offered the school an opportunity to use the themes of the play to examine and discuss important and timely social issues in the everyday lives of high school girls.

Saint Mary's theatre director, Lou Whitmire Catania '77C, fell in love with the story in 2004 when she took her teenage daughters to see the movie starring Lindsay Lohan. In 2013, Catania's students at Leesville Road High School begged her to turn the screenplay, written by Tina Fey, into a stage play, which they did with the help of a professional playwright. Last year, when Catania pulled out the script in her theatre arts class at Saint Mary's, she realized the movie was as popular with girls in 2017 as it was in 2004.

While "mean girl" behavior has certainly existed throughout the history of high school life and the adolescent girl world, Tina Fey based her screenplay largely on the research of Rosalind Wiseman, a teacher who wrote Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence. Wiseman's research is based on hundreds of interviews with girls about popularity, social media, parents, grades, boys, underage drinking, cliques, aggressive behavior, and other issues impacting teenage girls.

The school has used the play this semester as an avenue to open candid discussions and conversations in advisory groups and classrooms about the emotional and social lives of adolescent girls.

"I am proud of the efforts of the visual and performing arts, academic, and student life departments to collaborate to bring these issues and concerns to the forefront with our student body and to allow our girls to talk openly and honestly about them," says Catania. "The girls have engaged in various activities including writing, acting, creating art, dancing, and exploring women's roles to delve into 'girl world' and the shark tank it can be. We gave the girls opportunities to explore positive ways to interact with each other, coping mechanisms, and the importance of kindness.

"As always, it is a pleasure to work with our dedicated and talented girls," says Catania. "They have put their hearts and souls into this show."

The play delighted audiences nightly, Nov. 2-4, at 7 p.m., in historic Eliza Battle Pittman Auditorium. The play was adapted for the stage by the Leesville Road High School Main Stage Theatrics and members of Saint Mary's International Thespian Society. Forty-six Saint Mary's students were in the cast and crew, and worked for months to bring the show to the stage. The house was packed in Pittman Auditorium with family, friends, students, faculty, staff, and guests, for this blockbuster show.

Lou Whitmire Catania '77C contributed to this article.



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