Annie Weisman's satiric drama 'Be Aggressive'
Being heard isn't easy when you're a teenager. Teachers just want you to shut up and listen to them talk. Parents are always too caught up in their own problems to hear what you have to say. Even your peers can tune you out if you don't have the right look or the right friends or live in the right ZIP code. About the only place a teen can really make herself heard is on the cheerleading squad -- which may be one of the reasons that Laura and Leslie are so intense about cheering. Their lives are little to cheer about -- in addition to the typical adolescent trials of social pressures, academics, body changes, and surging hormones, Laura's mom has just been killed in a hit-and-run accident and Leslie's dad has abandoned her -- so the twist and shout of cheerleading is an outlet, powerful enough to inspire the girls to hijack a Lexus and make a cross-country pilgrimage to the "Spirit Institute of the South," the ultimate training ground for the pompom brigade. Their odyssey there and back also ties in to issues of grief, family ties, and environmentalism, about which it turns out they do have something to say.
Unlike its protagonists, Annie Weisman's satiric drama has not had much trouble getting heard. Since its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse in 2001, the show has been popping up in theatres across the country, from Dallas Theater Center to Chicago's Rivenden Theatre to Palo Alto's TheatreWorks. The State Theater Company provides the Austin area premiere, and it's actually the second time the theatre has presented the play; it was a finalist in the theatre's 1999 Harvest Festival of New American Plays and received a staged reading with the playwright in attendance. (This writer was fortunate to take part in that reading.) STC Artistic Director Scott Kanoff, coming off an especially strong season that included his sterling revival of Mrs. Warren's Profession, helms this full-scale production with a cast headed by Kira Pozehl and the ever-exuberant Jenny Larson.
Be Aggressive runs Sept. 11-Oct. 5, at the State Theater, 713 Congress. Call 469-SHOW for information or visit www.austintheatrealliance.org.