Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight. Nice Girl by Amanda Murray Cutalo is a great play for female performers that asks the question “Is there such a thing as being ‘too nice?’”
Mia, a teenage girl at an all-girls school, knows how to be a confident and assertive young woman who is not afraid to stand up for herself; the only problem is she can only act this way in her fantasies.
In Mia’s reality, she is the kind of girl who does her friends’ homework, lets people cut in front of her in line, and pretends to be someone she’s not in order to get a boy to like her.
As she repeatedly learns, being the “nice girl” requires a great deal of sacrifice and, often, frustration. As Mia eventually nears her breaking point, she decides the time has come for her fantasies to become reality.
Why did we publish this play?
This is such a relevant middle school topic: Girls who think being nice means you get more friends, especially when being “nice” means you don’t stand up for yourself. The main character in Nice Girl has quite the dilemma and it’s the reason we chose the play. We want to show middle school-aged characters going through middle school problems. Not high school problems adapted down. Not only do the characters have to face the dilemma of sacrificing character to be “nice” they also make mistakes, and deal with those mistakes. All in a lovely theatrical package. A great show.
Let’s hear from the author!
1. Why did you write this play?
I am an English teacher, so I’ve taught many “nice girls” over the years. The inspiration for this play came from a conversation that I had with one of my students. She approached me at the end of a group assignment, feeling frustrated that she had done the bulk of the work and that her friends had taken advantage of her. She felt voiceless and powerless. I related to this struggle, specifically the pressure that girls and women often feel to be nice, or risk being called shrill, aggressive, difficult to get along with, or other words that I’m not sure I’m allowed to write here. To demand respect means to be unlikeable. I wrote this play because I wanted to explore what it looks like to confront these pressures and redefine a healthier sense of self, which leads to healthier relationships with others.
2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
It’s a play about redefining female identity by challenging the mask of the “nice girl” that girls and women often feel pressured to wear.
3. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
Have fun with the fantasy scenes! (When Mia says exactly what she’s thinking, completely unfiltered, and in one instance even punches Jen and grabs Maggie by the hair). Besides using different lighting to distinguish between fantasy and reality, it definitely helps for the acting to be as over-the-top and exaggerated as possible in these scenes.
4. Why is this play great for student performers?
I hope that student performers will see pieces of themselves in each of these characters and be able to think more about what it really means to be a “nice girl” and what it means to be friends with one.
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