‘Reasons To Be Pretty’ Redefines What it Means to Be Beautiful
by Anne Marielle Eugenio, December 03, 2019 8:50am
Art by Dani Elevazo
We don’t want to admit it, but physical appearance matters as far as our self-esteem is concerned. We let others’ comments define what we look like. The play Reasons To Be Pretty understands this dilemma, it shows how the American society values body image. This theater piece written by Neil LaBute is the final installment of a trilogy, succeeding The Shape of Things and Fat Pig. Bow, four theater arts students with Missy Maramara (Callie in Stop Kiss) as their thesis production adviser will bring this to life on the local stage.
Real Struggles from Fictional Characters
Reasons to be Pretty tells the story of four people: Steph, Greg, Carly, and Kent. Steph is furious over her boyfriend, Greg, who thinks her face is just “regular.” Greg on the other hand, spends an ample amount of time explaining to people his true intentions, which are often misunderstood.
Carly is the best friend of Steph, who spread gossip about Greg’s thoughts. And of course, there’s Kent, Carly’s husband who is crude and tangled in a work-related affair.
These actual problems and insecurities are what Reasons to be Pretty wants to address—the issues with appearance and relationships.
Vulnerability From The Actors
This particular staging stars four BFA Theater Arts students from Ateneo de Manila University: Stacey Renei Dy and MJ Vitug as Steph and Brianna Bunagan and Marissa Teodoro as Carly. Ateneo alumni Miko Insame and Ian Pangilinan star as Kent and Greg, respectively.
It isn’t easy to put yourself under the spotlight and have the audience criticize you. It is the girls’ idea to perform the piece that speaks for the present, past, and future generations. And Caisa Borromeo, the director, thinks this is a great way to have people talking and open up to the issue.
“I just want people to talk and have a conversation. What is okay, what is not okay? What is beautiful? What is not beautiful,” Caisa said.
She also encouraged the actors to really see the characters and perceive that none of them is the bad guy. They are just people who mess up at times and have different opinions on different ideas.
“We all have something we are fighting for, we all have our side of it, which is what we talked about while that here’s a situation, there’s a bunch of opinions on it. None aren’t necessarily objectively wrong,” Ian said.
A Powerful Theatrical Piece
The students’ adviser, Missy Maramara, thinks this is a powerful play since it talks about the issues on self-perception and four college girls will perform it.
“This piece is perfect for actors in their 20s. And since at that age, it’s really about relationships and about how you value yourself, how your partner values you, how you value your partner. It’s really how you allow this series of events determine who you are,” he said.
Fo Marissa, Brianna, MJ, and Stacey, it’s a big step towards opening up to oneself, especially when it comes to the beauty within.
“The fact that the whole story is about how see ourselves and how we allow others to see us and define who we are, that speaks so much not just this generation but the past and perhaps even the future. And even when we talked about it for a long time now, it’s still an issue that prevails today,” Marissa said.
Know more about body image perception and acceptance. Catch Reasons to be Pretty on November 29-30 and December 6-7, 8pm, and December 1 and 8at the Fine Arts Theater, 3/F Gonzaga Hall, Ateneo de Manila University.
Ticket prices are at 200php for students, PWDs, and senior citizens and 250php for regular audiences. Book your tickets now!