If Barbie were a real woman, her body would collapse from its impossible proportions. Her addiction to shopping would require the help of a 12-step program. And her high-heel feet would be sorely in need of surgery.|
Yet, hers is the face that has launched thousands of girlhood hopes and fantasies. One of the best-selling toys of all time, this 11-inch plastic doll, with accompanying outfits, townhouses, cars and swimming pools (all sold separately, of course), is the stuff American Dreams are made of.
Now, she's also the subject of a new play, "Barbie Get Real," penned by two clever young playwrights, Jennifer Gailus and Olivia Martin. The pair's first published work, "Barbie Get Real" is a funny and feisty critique of consumer society.
"We as a society are engulfed in perfection -- the idea that we have to be what we're not. To buy what we're not, to look like what we're not," says Gailus.
The pair, both students at Seattle Pacific University, takes aim at materialism through a cast of Barbies. For these babes in toyland, life is made saccharine by popping "perfect pills" and going to the mall. Their bubble is burst when one Barbie rebels and refuses to take her meds.
Many of the ideas for the play came from the high school experience, says Martin. The team wrote and performed the play for their senior project at Eastlake High School in Redmond, Washington. They donated the proceeds from the performance to Habitat for Humanity.
For teenagers, high school hallways are the runways of the image-conscious. They smile and greet one another as they take note of hair, makeup and shoe styles. "It's a way everyone can compete," Martin says. "Just walking down the hall, you can say, 'I look better than her, and I have better clothes than that person.'"
Martin and Gailus began writing plays together in junior high. "A lot of them have had a similar message about living two lives, wearing a mask and hiding the true self," Martin says.
Gailus says the pair was pleased to learn that "Barbie Get Real" won a Third Place award in a high school play-writing contest, giving them a publisher's contract and future royalties. Their plan is to keep up the collaboration. "We hope to have an impact on people's lives," Gailus says.
"Barbie Get Real" is published in "Beautiful Girls and Other Winning Plays from the 1996 Baker's Plays High School Playwriting Contest." For more information, contact Baker's Plays, 100 Chauncy Street, Boston, MA 02111-1783. Phone: (617)482-1280; fax: (617) 482-7613.