"When Victoria has to choose between the popular scene and the math team, she learns that sometimes you actually can't have it all — which is a very different lesson than the one that young women of other generations were taught," playwright Kathryn Walat told Playbill.com recently.
The Off-Broadway not-for-profit Women's Project resurfaced Jan. 12 with the first preview of Walat's comedy, a high school tale about being the smartest girl in the room.
Loretta Greco directs the play by WP Playwrights Lab member Walat at the Julia Miles Theater, the Women's Project's home. Performances play to Feb. 11.
"We've done a lot of great work during previews," Walat told Playbill.com. "Loretta has been putting in a lot of small changes that make the show run even faster— especially the end of Act I, which is split between the 'big game' basketball championship and a major Saturday night SAT study session."
Walat added, "It's been so terrific to see all kinds of audience members — from a student matinee, to the more mature Sunday matinee — really respond to the show, and to watch the actors soaking up that energy in their performances, which are all amazing." *
In the new play, "Vickie Martin is uber-popular. She's also wicked smart. Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen demonstrates that chaos theory rules when the third most popular sophomore is roped into joining the all-male, all-nerd Longwood High School math team, upsetting the axis of symmetry of boys becoming men. Will Vickie Martin invert the curve or become the coefficient for her team winning the state math championship? Can this goddess of Pi possibly become the common denominator that makes the mathletes victorious? Totally."
Jessi Campbell plays Victoria Martin. The boys are played by Zachary Booth, Adam Farabee, Tobias Segal and Matthew Stadelmann.
The creative team includes set designer Robert Brill, costume designer Valerie Marcus Ramshur and lighting designer Sarah Sidman. Original music and sound design are by Daniel Baker.
"Finding and nurturing women theatre artists is the mission of Women's Project," stated Julie Crosby, Women's Project's producing director. "Kathryn Walat joined the Playwrights Lab in 2004. When her work was presented in a reading in our Women's Work festival last year, we knew it was destined for our main stage."
Walat's plays include Connecticut, Greenspace, Know Dog and Johnny Hong Kong. Her work has been produced at Salvage Vanguard (Austin), Perishable Theatre (Providence), The Hangar Theatre (Ithaca), and developed at Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club, Boston Theatre Works, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, The Lark, and New Georges, where she is an affiliated playwright. She has been commissioned for Actors Theatre of Louisville's Anthology Project/Humana 2007, and her newest play Bleeding Kansas will premiere next summer at The Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, NY. Walat received her BA from Brown University and MFA from Yale Drama School.
What attracted Walat to the world of high school as a setting?
Walat told Playbill.com, "I love high school movies, especially locker scenes — those moments of high drama that happen within the four or five minutes in between class — and a couple of years ago I started wondering why there aren't more high school plays, when it's such a enduring genre within film. Also, everything is high stakes in high school, so it's the perfect setting for drama. But then, when looked at with a little distance and perspective…that's where the comedy comes in."
What journey does the title character take?
"Vickie Martin's particular journey is from being the third-most-popular sophomore, totally caught up in the world of her cheerleader friends Jen and Jen, to being the star of the ultra-nerdy math team, to which she brings her mathematical brainpower as well as signature sassiness," Walat said. "But more generally, it's the story of figuring out who you are and how you want to be — a big question in high school, but also one that we come up against again and again in our lives."
Victoria math teammates are four boys. Of that, Walat said, "The play is also about the journey of the four guys on the team, whose high school lives all get totally changed by her arrival. Ultimately for the better — like a Vickie Martin make-over — but with plenty of growing pains along the way."
Was Walat the "brain" in high school?
"I wouldn't say that I was a card-carrying member of the 'nerd-herd' (as they were called at my high school), but I was a silver medalist at the state-wide Chemistry Olympiad. Does that count?"
Director Loretta Greco's New York premieres include The Story (Public Theater, Audelco nominee/Kesselring Prize), Meshugah (Naked Angels), Lackawanna Blues (Public Theater), Two Sisters and a Piano (Public Theater/Kesselring Prize), Mercy (Vineyard), A Park in Our House (New York Theater Workshop), Rinne Groff's Inky (Women's Project), Toni Press Coffman's Touch (Women's Project), Karen Hartman's Gum (Women's Project) and Amparo Garcia's Under a Western Sky (Women's Project/ INTAR).
The Julia Miles Theater is at 424 W. 55th Street, just west of Ninth Avenue. Tickets for Victoria Martin are $40. Rush seats are $10.
Visit www.telecharge.com or call (212) 239-6200.
Founded by Julia Miles in 1978 in response to the lack of opportunities for women in theatre, Women's Project has staged over 120 productions, 450 readings and workshops, and published 10 anthologies of produced plays.