The teen play "What's Eating Katie?" raises awareness about body image & eating disorders. Help us turn this fun show into a musical!
Fifteen years ago, I wrote the play “What’s Eating Katie?” about a 13-year-old girl who struggles with an eating disorder...I mean LITERALLY struggles, since the Eating Disorder (ED) is played by an actor representing a separate character. This allows the audience to see and hear what it sounds like inside Katie’s head.
Act I takes place over the course of one day when ED recruits Katie into engaging in an extreme diet that takes a frightening turn. Act II takes place three months later, when we can see the toll that ED has taken on Katie, her family and her friends. It ends with an uplifting scene in a therapist’s office where Katie begins her journey towards recovery. Between scenes are hilarious "commercials,” spoofing the diet, fashion, fast food and fitness industries. These can be done with actors walking on stage, or they can be done as actual videotaped commercials which play on a large screen. These pre-recorded commercials allow the students to cast key members of the school community, from the football players and geeks to beloved faculty members in hilarious roles. The more people from different parts of a school community are involved in the show, the greater impact it will have (and the more fun it'll be!)
In terms of what "ideas" the audience will take from the show, there can be no conclusions other than: dieting is ridiculous, starving is stupid, bingeing is a nightmare and throwing up is addictive and dangerous. The only rational approach is to respect, feed and take care of your body!
High schools and colleges across the country have performed this show as a way to address body image, media pressures and eating disorders. Atlanta’s Westminster school produced it for eight consecutive years where high schoolers performed it for the 8th graders. These shows were all student-directed and featured popular kids in both small and large roles (not just the top actors in the school).
I recently updated the script to including cell phones and texting, Google and Facebook (none of which were around in 1996!). But I decided to bring the show to the next level by “musicalizing” it. I stumbled upon a gifted actor-composer-music director named Bryan Mercer. He knows how to make a show fresh and engaging, hip and meaningful.
Typically when entertainment media take on a topic like eating disorders, they promote misinformation, promulgate stereotypes or further stigmatize sufferers. On the other hand, “issue-driven” plays can be dull and talk down to teens. Bryan and I feel like the combination of my 20 years as a psychologist along with his 30 years in musical theater will allow us to create a show that will both educate and entertain today’s sophisticated youth audience.
Your donation will help us fund the process of writing nine songs and recording the tracks. Once we’ve finished, we’ll approach schools and community groups about performing the show in Atlanta in 2012. Then we’ll reach out nationwide to promote this fresh, bold way to address dieting, fat phobia, body image, media pressure, peer influences, parental stress and eating disorders.
This is a life-changing and potentially life-saving project. The show will engage and enlighten cast and audience members and provide hope for sufferers and loved ones. Ultimately, it encourages people to seek help because recovery is possible.
You can be part of this exciting opportunity. Your gift will not only help us reach thousands of teens, their parents and educators, but it will make a powerful difference in their lives. Thank you!
The youngest audience for this show should be 8th grade. By the time today's kids are 13 (unless they've been living under a rock) they already know about anorexia and bulimia. In fact, these days kids as young as 10 are DEVELOPING eating disorders. When I speak with grade school kids about eating issues (never mentioning the words "eating disorder") inevitably a 10-year-old will ask about a friend's older sister who makes herself throw up her food. So the play will not bring up anything that today's 8th grader has not seen or heard. The difference is that your average 13-year-old may believe that starving or throwing up are great (and harmless) ways to lose weight. I can guarantee you that by the end of this show, she will no longer think that way.
You can donate those seats to a friend, and we will send you a DVD of the show that you can watch from the comfort of your living room!
What if I don't want a character named after ME or my name in a song...but the name of someone I know instead?
That is totally Cool with us!
That would be awesome! Any extra money will allow us to record all the tracks with vocals (we'll want to pay the singers as well as pay for studio recording time, etc.) This will make the final product even more impressive and easier for schools to use.
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