By Katie Meyer
For 20-something women in 1865 and 2016, the struggle is real. The struggles of the March sisters, first introduced to the world in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, are as relatable as ever. Fighting with your sisters, debating whether or not to rescue the vain one when she falls through an ice pond, and dodging the advances of creepy neighbours, are still issues for women today.
That’s the premise of Women by Chiara Atik, a satire that mashes up the literary classic Little Women with the TV show Girls. The award-winning feminist comedy is premiering in Canada on June 30 after sold out runs in New York and Los Angeles. Women at Toronto Fringe is currently raising funds for costumes (Jo’s baldcap) and important set pieces (like Beth’s deathbed). The production’s all-female creative team is using Facebook and Twitter to show the similarities between the March sisters and Hannah’s crew.
On the surface, Little Women and Girls couldn’t appear more different. What does Jo March have in common with Hannah Horvath?
According to playwright Chiara Atik, a whole lot. Both women try to keep their dreams of becoming authors alive against pressures from everyday life: getting a stable job and finding a suitable partner. But Jo and Hannah aren’t like their sisters: by cutting their hair off and refusing to abide by gender norms, they battle to forge their own unconventional paths. Still, their sisters are supportive, even when they disagree. Beth/Shoshanna, Meg/Marnie, and Amy/Jessa couldn’t be more different, but they all push each other to be the best versions of themselves… while constantly fighting.
As The New York Times wrote, Women “brilliantly melds HBO’s Girls with Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.” The four friends from 2000s New York and the four sisters from 1860s Massachusettes have a lot in common. Especially since Jo, Amy, Beth and Meg joined Twitter as @bethdiesTO, a new satirical account based on Atik’s play. Little Women and Girls fans who can’ t make the next showing of the play on June 30 in Toronto can talk to the March sisters @bethdiesTO — if they can catch Jo, Amy, Beth and Meg on a break from their misadventures in the dating world or attempts to save up money.
Women have made huge strides since 1865, but the March sisters and the four main characters in Girls have more in common than you might think.
Fending off unwanted advances from creeps? Check.
Trying to find a single, cute guy in his 20s who isn’t crazy? Check.
Trying to start a career in the arts, during a recession? Check.
@bethdiesTO and the play it’s based on show what’s changed, and what hasn’t changed, for women over the past 100 years. Is feeling the pressure to accept the first proposal that comes your way really that different from being inundated with articles stressing the importance of having kids before you turn 35? The March sisters — just like Hannah, Jessa, Marnie, and Shoshanna — know how hard it is to be independent women in an era that insists that you settle down, fast.
If you’re lucky enough to live in Toronto, you can meet the March sisters in person from June 30 to July 9 at Annex Theatre. You don’t have to sell your hair to see the play—tickets are just $12. Outside Toronto? You can chat with Beth, Amy, Meg and Jo about the struggle by tweeting to @bethdiesTO.