This year’s high school play was Lisa Loomer’s The Waiting Room, a dark comedy about the lack of ownership women have over their own bodies. Throughout most of history women’s bodies have been literally owned by father, then husband. Many brave people fought for the rights that women in Japan and America enjoy today—namely to have more say in decisions about their bodies than their fathers or husbands do.
Loomer’s play argues that although women have more independence from male family members, our bodies are now at the mercy of profit-seeking pharmaceutical companies, the bureaucracy of government regulatory agencies, the medical industry, and mass-media generated standards of beauty. Thus, women continue to cede control of their body and even self-image of their bodies, to industries whose decision-making positions are predominantly occupied by men. Although women, of course, can choose NOT to accept the airbrushed models and adolescent-fantasy cartoon-like silhouettes presented to inform our aesthetics, if we choose to reject these standards, what other choices are being offered? Where are the better alternatives? In deciding to do this play, my hope was that ASIJ students would reflect on these issues and rise to the challenge of creating those better alternatives for future generations of girls.
The cast of ASIJ’s production of The Waiting Room handled these heavy themes with impressive maturity, subtlety of character, and fine comedic timing. Lead roles were movingly played by Beth Webb, Max Loveman, Eliot Callon, George Luton, and Melanie Xu with outstanding character roles played by Dylan Colby, Evan Miller, Vivienne Finke, and Sarah Tropp. Riko Fujita, Sakiko Toriya, and Naomi Okada worked tirelessly on the set crew (headed by Aaron Rogers) to create sets that were magical and versatile. Bailey Keen, Teresa Haberstroh, and Yuko Taniguchi worked under the guidance of Daniel Hashima to create beautifully authentic, not to mention ‘unusual,’ props. Mary Onions volunteered her time to create a lighting plan with the extra challenge of the play being presented very nearly ‘in the round.’
With much student time and dedication, ASIJ was able to create a piece of theater that was not only entertaining, but thought-provoking, as well—testament to ASIJ’s commitment to be an exemplary learning community! (Becky Gessert, HS Fall Play Director)