‘Girls Like That’ tackles themes of friendship, body image

The cast during a dress rehearsal of ‘Girls Like That.’ From left are: Cassandra Smith, Julie Cushman, Kyra Knight, Emma Van Barneveld, Tayler Hartwick and Hala Miller. Absent was Chloe Breschia. Glenn Ogilvie

Tara Jeffrey

Henri Canino was sitting on an airplane when she first read the script of “Girls Like That.”

“By the end of the flight I was crying,” the local director said of the stage play that explores the social pressures faced by young women in a tech-driven society.

“It’s just so relevant.”

The longtime Theatre Sarnia member will direct a seven-member female cast in a four-night run from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 at the Imperial Theatre.

The play follows a group of young women growing up together in the British School System when a naked photo of one of them goes viral.

“The play deals with the fallout from that event, the reactions from the other girls, and that ‘mob mentality’,” said Canino. “You also get to hear their inner thoughts as they try to survive their own reputations staying in tact.

“What happens if they stick up for her?” she continued. “And it also deals with the double standards — why isn’t it the same for the boys?”

The story jumps back in time to show the characters in their early years growing up together, hinting at the social pressures that creep in along the way, Canino said.

“We also see flashbacks from young women in the 1920s, ‘40s, ‘60s and ‘80s, when they fought for independence and had to deal with the obstacles of feminism at the time.

The play unfolds in a series of vignettes using choreography to transition between scenes.

“The play itself is really important to myself, the cast and the crew,” she said. “We’ve actually sat down together and really analyzed it; it deals with the dynamics of friendship, empathy, feminism, social media, popularity, body image — so many of those topics that girls, and even women today, have to deal with.

“It has become a very powerful rehearsal process for us as women.”

Girls Like That is loosely based on the tragedy of Amanda Todd, Canino said. The 15-year-old Canadian girl died by suicide in 2012 after she was cyberbullied and blackmailed into exposing her breasts via webcam, and harassed and bullied relentlessly at school and online.

“It may trigger different reactions from the audience, depending on who’s watching; it may be all too familiar to some,” said Canino.

“For others, it may just be a real lesson in demonstrating what growing up in the modern world looks like, especially with the technology we have.”

 

 

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: Theatre Sarnia presents: “Girls Like That “

WHEN: Jan. 30 to Feb. 2; nightly at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Imperial Theatre

DETAILS: For ticketing and more, visit www.imperialtheatre.net