"When writing THE TALL GIRLS, I wanted to capture the exciting elements of a live sporting event - the unpredictability and thrill of not knowing the outcome until the end," said Playwright Meg Miroshnik. "No matter how much you rehearse, you can't guarantee, or fake, making a basket. There's a real adrenaline rush in taking that risk in front of an audience."
Shattered Globe presents THE TALL GIRLS
Written by Miroshnik and directed by Shattered Globe Ensemble Member Louis Contey, The Tall Girls follows a group of teenage girls in 1930s Poor Prairie with dreams of starting a basketball team.
When Jean (Angie Shriner), a strong young woman with playing potential, and Haunt Johnny (Joseph Wiens), a teacher with the talent to coach, come into town, they think they finally found their chance. However, in a town plagued by the Great Depression and deep, ingrained beliefs of how women should behave, the girls have a great deal they must overcome if they want to play and win.
Miroshnik speaks of infusing the story with adrenaline and unpredictability, and she certainly succeeds.
What are our dreams? Do we have the drive to achieve them, and at what cost? These are just a few of the questions surrounding the story that unfolds on the stage. As I watched the struggle of the women in the play, I found myself reflecting on my own life in a similar manner, and the choices I have made bringing me to this point.
Clever Design and Direction of Shattered Globe’s Production
Helmed by Louis Contey, the design team collaborated to bring the theme of basketball and adrenaline to the surface. Set Designer Amanda Rozmiarek cleverly placed two basketball hoops over center stage – which immediately drew my attention upon entering the theater. While one basketball hoop looks a bit more professional, the other looks as if it were made by hand, and rests on the side of a barn door. The contrast is striking, and sets up the audience for the story that is to come – while the girls have the talent to succeed, it will also require work and a passion for the sport, as well as overcoming the struggles of the girls’ home lives.
Sound Designer and Composer Christopher Kriz utilized this theme in his creations as well – from the very first sound we hear at the top of the show. Throughout the production, Kriz repeats the sound of a basketball bouncing on the ground, mirroring the sound of a heartbeat. This connection added to the piece in a great way. Basketball represents a potential escape for these girls, and every choice in regard to the game could lead to a complete change in their lives. So much was resting on the game, and Kriz captures that pressure and tension beautifully in his design.
Director Louis Contey brought Miroshnik’s script to life in a lovely way – particularly in his use of the transitions. During some of these moments in between scenes, Contey brought the girls out to play basketball. Over the course of the play, we slowly see them improve in these moments, and act more like a team with a common goal. These silent scenes helped provide a continuous flow for the production, and became favorite moments to watch unfold.
Acting Infuses Honesty into the Story
The Tall Girls follows a basketball team, and as such, requires a strong ensemble to carry the story from moment to moment. Shattered Globe’s production certainly does not fail to meet that challenge. Contey helped highlight the chemistry between these girls, and it truly feels as if you are watching a group of friends work towards a common goal.
Some standout performances include Christina Gorman’s portrayal of Lurlene, which was hysterical. Her physical acting abilities helped bring the youthful, flirtatious elements of her character to the surface. In contrast, Abbey Smith brought a more innocent, and sweet approach to Puppy, which only emphasized her inner struggle as she tried to choose between the demands of her parents and the love of her friends. Tina Muñoz Pandya’s Inez was strong and reserved, which made the moments she brought out emotions of heartbreak and pain even more powerful. Joseph Wiens as Coach Haunt Johnny also added a lovely sense of honesty and determination as he led the team to towards their success.
Cleverly staged and beautifully acted, be sure to catch The Tall Girls before it is too late.
Through February 25, 2017
Thursdays at 8:00pm
Fridays at 8:00pm
Saturdays at 8:00pm
Sundays at 3:00pm
Run Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes, with intermission
1229 W Belmont Avenue
About the Author:
Lauren Katz is a freelance director and dramaturge, and new to the Chicago Theatre Scene. She recently moved from Washington DC, where she worked with Mosaic Theater Company of DC in Company Management, as well as directed around town with various theaters.