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It’s 10 p.m.: Do You Know Where Your Daughter Is? Facebook Me Does

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If you’re a teenage girl the Facebook thing starts innocently enough with something like this: Hey… there’s this party tonight…and then a “hook-up” gone wrong, or a relationship request (and too much stress!!), an unwanted touch, pressure to get high, parents on your back, comments on your a$$, sexuality mixed-up, our friendship lost, a body not worth the cost…and it’s only 5:30! So, “Can you just Facebook me…?”

Facebook Me, the play, offers a thrilling inside look at the seamy underside of Facebook through the eyes of teenage girls. Currently being performed at the 15th Annual New York International Fringe Festival through August 28, the show is the latest creative work developed and produced by The Arts Effect Theatre Company. Performed by a troupe of 10 girls, ages 13 to 15, and guided by co-directors Katie Cappiello and Meg McInerney, the play was cobbled together from the girls’ journal entries, writing exercises, discussions and conversation threads. The piece was conceived over the course of several months and work-shopped weekly since September 2010.

Fair warning for parents: Be prepared for a wild ride and antics that you never thought your daughter would participate in ranging from posting sexed up profile pictures that are beyond recognition and salacious status updates, to not-so-subtle cyber-bullying. One character is targeted for perceived lesbian tendencies and the boys are rating girls’ photos on hotness which leads to a conversation full of crushing and painful self-doubt. There’s even a bit about a parent posting an inappropriate, privacy-invading status update about his daughter.

Facebook Me has its share of truly cringe-worthy moments like the status update about an “old guy” checking one of the characters out on the subway because her rear-end was hanging out of her shorts. And hilarious ones too where two friends compare their chest assets—one is flat as a board and is convinced to try out a new bra, to  the other’s ample cups running over.  There’s plenty of angst-ridden fodder here in this meaty play about Facebook’s impact on the lives of teen girls..

The cast of Facebook Me - now showing at the 2011 NY International Fringe Festival. Photo by Christian Witkin.

Says Julia McDermott, 14, a student at LaGuardia High School and a four-year member of The Arts Effect All-Girl Theater Company: “It’s US Weekly or In Touch for regular people–and it’s like, good or bad, you’re the cover story every week.” The play, notes Cappiello, was written based on the girls’ creative writing, journal entries and improvised scenes in class, “It is truly their online experience brought to the stage. It is quite an edgy play as the girls are between 13 and 15 yrs old and go to a mix of private and public high schools in the city. It chronicles their experiences–some real, some fantasy, in real life and online. We had an unobstructed view of them,” Cappiello says.

Six million girls ages 13 to 15 are believed to be on Facebook.  “Every aspect of their day is Facebook. When we started work-shopping, all the girls recognized that they had a different online identify versus their offline identity and it was as if they were casting their online identity,” Cappiello explained, adding, “It’s a carefully constructed artifice.”

“We recognize social media is here to stay. Facebook is here to stay. But we say, everything in moderation.  We hope people will leave talking, that we will stimulate conversation,” Cappiello says.

Click here for more information about Facebook Me. The play is performing at Teatro SEA – CSV Center Cultural Center at 107 Suffolk St through August 28.

Tobi Elkin is a writer, editor and interviewer who lives in the Lower East Side and is a regular reader of The Lo-Down. Her diverse interests include arts and entertainment, film, food and cultural critique.

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