emotional creature brochureBy ROBERT DIGITALE

What’s it like to be a girl today?

Santa Rosa Junior College’s Theatre Arts Department wants to give you some insight into that topic with its lively version of “Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World.”

The play offers scenes, songs and monologues – some comic, some unsettling – that speak to the longings and sufferings of young women at home and abroad.

Its creator, “Vagina Monologues” author Eve Ensler, says she wrote “Emotional Creature” to be “a vehicle to empower girls and inspire activism.” The play clearly resonated with the many young women who attended Friday’s premiere.

The show’s insights begin from its opening scene, as the cast members ask each other a series of would-your-rather-be questions, starting with: “Would you rather be strong and successful or pretty and adored? … Would you rather be with someone who hits you or never get asked out? … Would you rather get pregnant accidentally or get dumped? … Be the exploiter or the exploited?”

The first song includes the plea to “give me one thing I can believe in that isn’t a brand name.”

The cast members bring to life a variety of girl struggles, starting with the challenge of taking a Facebook selfie that doesn’t look too strong, too angry or too hot. (What will certain people think?) Later we hear the inner turmoil of a young woman who feels the rejection of the “girl posse.”

But the troubles aren’t limited to dealing with the soul-sucking expectations created by other people, including parents. The woes also are found in heartrending tales of girls abroad who have been held against their will and sexually abused.

The latter stories have the makings for a sobering theatrical experience. But that isn’t the ultimate effect, perhaps because of the radiance of the cast and their energetic presumption that women can work to make a better world.

Or as director Wendy Wisely writes in her notes to the audience: “Don’t worry; it’ll be alright. We emotional creatures are pretty resilient.”

A tip of the hat to cast members Rachael Anderson, Brooke Amor Maytorena, Siobhan O’Reilly, Skylaer Palacios, Goria Lo and Abby Volz, as well as to chorus members Morgan Vermeulen, Brenna Nadolski, Emily Bosch, Shawna Jackson, Ariana Olcese and Bella Wiess.

The play continues through March 13 at Burbank Auditorium.

And where are all the boys? They’ll be appearing in an all-male version of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” running April 22 to May 8. (They say this is the way it originally was done by the Bard in Jolly Olde England.)

The Theatre Arts Department also will mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with its own “Shakespeare Cabaret,” appearing for one night only, April 4.

For times and tickets to all these events, click here.

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