The year is 1914 and Margaret Sanger is causing quite the controversy.
She’s demanding rights for women and is promoting the idea that the time for family planning has come.
Sanger is at the center of Monica Byrne’s “What Every Girl Should Know,” Something Something Theatre Company’s current offering.
It is set in a 1914 reformatory school where young girls, many of whom have been victims of violence and sexual assault, are first learning about Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. They also learn they can be more than society thinks they can be.
Jasmine Roth, 26, the education associate at the Arizona Theatre Company, directs the production. She answered some questions for us.
What do you feel is the most compelling part of the story?
“I think it’s the magic in the play. The play deals with sexual assault and violence. These girls are living in this world where that’s their reality, yet they create a fantasy world where everything is colorful and beautiful. I hope we can take that and have more support for girls like them today.”
Why did you decide to direct “What Every Girl Should Know?”
“I’m a huge advocate for producing theater that has a message and being an activist through art. I think this play has a good message for everyone.”
This season at Something Something Theatre is all about “women who dare.” Why do you think this theme is important?
“If you think of playwrights, especially taught in school and performed in a lot of theaters, they’re usually male. And they’re brilliant plays. Some of my favorite plays are written by male playwrights. But we need to hear stories from more people, which goes beyond the male and female divide.”
Given current controversies of feminism, how do you think “What Every Girl Should Know” can relate to today’s society?
“It’s important to have a dual mindset — to look at our victories and see how far we’ve come, but to also remind ourselves that we still need to fight for what we believe in. I don’t think you have to like Margaret Sanger or support Planned Parenthood to like this play. We can talk about these issues without being divisive.”
Why did you choose theater for a career?
“I’ve known I wanted to do theatre since I was 5 years old. I enjoyed watching ‘Barney & Friends,’ and I told my mom I wanted to be on the show. She told me they were actors, and I said, ‘I’m going to be an actor then.’ Once I was involved in theater, it always clicked.”