Meg’s New Friend: Theater and Friendship in the Obama Era

The super friendly folks at The Production Company, which “exchanges challenging new work for the theater between Australia and the United States,” invited me to see their new play, Meg’s New Friend, and do a talk back on the feminist perspective afterward. Of course I wrangled my good friend and playwright Felice Belle into it with me.
The play centers around Meg, a white, upper class, broadcast journalist whose living in Manhattan, and hungry for a more diverse social world and more fulfilling relationships. Playwright Blair Singer does a notable job of threading together so many of the themes we wrestle with here at Feministing on a daily basis–race, class, gender, objectification, media representation, exploitation, friendship and loyalty between women, negotiating healthy relationships, finding fulfillment etc. etc. In fact, as I said in the talk back, it was a play I would have been petrified to write given the weight and breadth of the themes therein. It would be easy to fall into cliches, forget about characterization, get the pacing or the tone all wrong.
So bravo to Singer, who managed to paint four complex main characters to serve as the narrative vehicles for all these compelling social issues. Ultimately, like all good art, it left me with lots of fundamental questions:

  • If friendships that transcend race/class etc. barriers really are one of the keys to breaking down stereotypes, how do we form more of them? Our society is so segregated socially that this becomes difficult and, frankly, awkward, for ladies like Meg who have never really ventured outside of their little bubbles.
  • What is the nature of modern friendship? What differentiates a real friend from an acquaintance, or in Meg’s parlance a “real friend” from a “work friend”?
  • How can media folks, like myself or TV producers or filmmakers, create work that humanizes, not exploits, disenfranchised people? (Think Rose’s amazing post on Precious .)

The play is running through December 20th, so if you’re in the NYC-area, definitely check it out.
Update: The theater has offered $20 tix (normally $25) to Feministing fans! Use the code meg here.

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2 Comments

  1. a.k.a.wandergrrl
    Posted December 10, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Yay, props to Courtney for an article on contemporary theatre! As a feminist director, I sometimes feel it’s a challenge searching for good scripts that deal with the issues that concern me. I definitely want to check out this playwright.

  2. Ronijn
    Posted December 10, 2009 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    The friendship angle is interesting to me. I’m an introvert so I find that people whom I truly consider “friends” tends to be different from others. Stepping from a “work” or “school” friend to a “real” friend is often kind of stressful for me, since, to me anyway, there implies more intimacy and real friendship – that this is a person you are now relying on in your personal life and not just job/school related stuff. There’s more emotional investment there in all aspects of your life. And it’s hard when sometimes people want to back off from being involved in your personal life and be a real friend. Ebb and flow happens, but what if you’re not getting the same things from the friendship anymore? Do you ‘break up’?
    Sorry, just thinking about this lately since it’s kind of happened to me. Again I wonder if this is just because I’m an introvert and find it hard to make friends, and thus am devastated when things don’t work out, or if even there is a difference between friendships with same sex or opposite sex people? Or do men deal with friendships differently than women? (I know super, super broad generalizations here… but it seems to me like guys just break it off and that’s it whereas women tend to gossip behind each other’s backs and continue ‘friendships’ which seems problematic… anyway, just thinking out loud).

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