National Eating Disorder Awareness Week arrives Feb. 20 to 26, and the Laguna Playhouse is calling attention to the growing problem this weekend.
The project is "EAT (It's Not About Food)" and it's being presented Friday and Saturday by the playhouse's Theater for a New Generation at the Laguna Beach Women's Club.
"Kids are inundated with messages telling them that thinner is better, and when they fit our culture's impossible beauty standards, they'll be happy," said Kelly Herman, director of the youth production.
"EAT," according to Herman, is interwoven with vignettes, ranging from realistic to satirical, and dramatizes the confusing and dangerous world of eating disorders in girls and boys.
"Candidly exploring causes and warning signs, the play takes a hard look at the influences of society and media on young people as they struggle with this rampant, and often tragic, disease," Herman said.
She claims that 80% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat, and there has been a rise in the incidence of anorexia in young women ages 15 to 19 in each decade since 1930. Of all people suffering with eating disorders, 70% are girls or young women.
"According to the National Eating Disorders Assn.," Herman said, "as many as 10 million females and a million males in the United States are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.
"Approximately 15 million more are struggling with binge eating disorder," she added. "Over one person's lifetime, at least 50,000 individuals will die as a direct result of an eating disorder."
What can be done? Hopefully the Laguna production can provide some answers and insights. The TNG company has taken on this project as its annual show for teen-aged audiences who may have outgrown the playhouse's Youth Theater season.
"TNG plays are for teens, parents and educators, and parental discretion is strongly advised," Herman stated. "The subject matter is always challenging and has ranged from plays about the Holocaust, racism and school violence to works about damaging rumors about sexual identity and the need to overcome self-destructive behavior."
"EAT" opened Thursday night at the women's club, 286 St. Ann's Drive (at Glenneyre) in Laguna and will close out with performances at 10 a.m. Friday and noon Saturday.
Tickets are $12.50 and may be ordered by calling (949) 497-2787 or visiting http://www.LagunaPlayhouse.com.
TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Coastline Pilot.