In this post-Queen Bees and Wannabes world, everyone knows that boys are bruisers while girls name losers. But before there was Mean Girls, there was Lord of the Flies, and viewers of the Woman's Will staging of William Golding's classic novel may be surprised by the animal evil they see when the company's all-female cast picks up the conch shell. "We keep getting people saying, well, this would never happen if this was a bunch of girls on an island, and I completely disagree," says Woman's Will artistic director Erin Merritt, who will direct the play. "Maybe they wouldn't go for the physical stuff right away, or maybe the way the physical stuff manifested itself would be different. But there would be the same kind of destruction of each other."
The version of the play opening October 1 at Eighth Street Studios (2525 Eighth St., Berkeley) is an early-'90s adaptation by English playwright Nigel Williams, who fashioned it for his son's all-boys' school. But Golding's story of power struggles, infighting, and the baddie within us all reflects our political and societal climate now more than ever. (For instance, watch how Jack and Roger sway the boys over to their tribe with promises of fun and irresponsibility, then think of how Dubya's original presidential campaign cast him as just a regular, DUI-gettin' Joe.) Each of the performances, save opening night, will be followed by a post-play discussion with activists and political pundits of all kinds. Merritt is most excited about the October 8 forum with cartoonists Tom Meyer and Don Asmussen, and October 2's discussion between campaign managers Mary Hughes and Ray McNally, who will report on the art of image-making from different sides of the partisan arena. Because no one is innocent when it comes to politics, be it those of gender or otherwise.
"I think that it's very easy for people to do what I think of as slandering boys," Merritt says of the play, "and sticking them with 'Oh, boys are just like that.' And I don't think you'll be able to do that when women are doing it." Info: WomansWill.org or 510-420-0813.
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