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Fall Play delves into tough issues facing college youth

From left, cast members Mercedes Padro, Christina Alden, and Jalayna Walton. (Augustana Photo Bureau/Mark Marogil)
From left, Jalayna Walton, Mercedes Padro, and Christina Alden rehearse.

Performance dates and tickets

Friday, Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 15, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday Oct. 16, 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, 1:30 p.m.

Potter Theatre in Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts (3701 7th Ave)

Tickets are $11 for the general public and $9 for full-time students and faculty members. Seating is by general admission.

Tickets may be purchased online, by phone (309) 794-7306, or at the door.

Real Girls Can't Win is the story of six college women who wrestle with their values and identity. Jessie Meyer, a first-year student in the play, describes the women portrayed: "It is rare when you come across a script where the characters all have such dimension and a genuine quality about them. These girls are anything but caricatures, which is what makes them relatable to actors and audience alike."

She believes the show deals with issues that "are common, yet often go unnoticed" and appreciates how the work is "truly, and brutally, honest."

Playwright Merri Biechler conceived this play with young actresses in mind, interviewing several female students at Ohio University before writing. While the play is set at an unnamed college, the initial idea came from a Rolling Stone article about the alcohol-fueled party culture at Duke University, Biechler said. Director Dr. Scott Irelan is excited by how the play offers "strong female characters written by a strong female voice [Biechler] in contemporary U.S. theatre."

The production is unique in its extensive use of technology, involving video, digital media, QR coding, blogging and projected scenography. One of the six characters is portrayed entirely through video. The production also has utilized social media, QR coding and blogs throughout the preparation and promotion process. Much of the set uses digital scenography designed by Assistant Professor of Theatre Adam Parboosingh.

The six-member cast and Dr. Irelan spent six weeks rehearsing for Real Girls Can't Win. Jo Vasquez '13 described a rehearsal process that included much more than staging. "I've spent time experimenting with the mannerisms that a pageant queen would possibly have," she said. "I was able to watch a great video on how to perform pageant waves.... I've been wearing [high heels] in rehearsal to make sure that I'm comfortable in them for the performances."

Cast member Mercedes Padro '15 finds it unique to be working on the thrust stage used for this production. She believes it demands more engagement with the audience, as "the audience has to feel a part of the play when we sometimes have our back to them."

Real Girls Can't Win is the first production in the Augustana Department of Theatre Arts' 2011-2012 performance season, "Action & Consequence." Other productions will include How I Learned to Drive, a complicated coming-of-age story, and the popular off-beat musical, Bat Boy. Season ticket packages are available for $31 for the general public and $25.50 for senior citizens, full-time students and children. To purchase season tickets, please call the ticket office at (309) 794-7306.