The Pick - The Fat Girl Gets a Haircut and Other Stories

Innocence and experience

April 28, 2011

The Fat Girl Gets a Haircut and Other Stories

Roundhouse, London, until 7 May

A young couple enact the primal erotic drama of hunter and hunted, boy, girl and apple. A Muslim boy loves bacon sandwiches and wants to give up his religion, but doesn’t know how to tell his father. Wherever he looks, he finds himself surrounded by pigs.

A girl remembers how she made a paper daffodil for her dying mother and looks through family photographs: “This is one of my Mum and Dad’s wedding. She won’t be at my wedding.” Another recalls the terrible embarrassment of having a crush on two of her teachers and, perhaps even worse, what it’s like to have friends who seem to fancy your father. A boy reveals his passion for Lady Gaga and long-term desire to become a burlesque dancer.

Eleven young performers recreate 11 personal stories in this remarkable example of participatory, community-based theatre - the title refers to the “fat girl”, or scapegoat, likely to be found in most groups of teenagers.

When the call went out for actors aged between 12 and 15 in late 2009, director Mark Storor and his team knew only that they wanted to do a show about “the journey of adolescence”. Though they notified all the heads of drama in inner London schools, they emphatically weren’t looking for those wanting to appear on Britain’s Got Talent or who had already acquired a repertoire of clever dramatic “tricks” from school plays.

Instead, they assembled a company and began working together for well over a year, meeting every Monday evening to eat together, reflect on what mattered to them and share their stories. The changes that were taking place in the young people’s bodies and personal lives inevitably fed into the process.

It was only in the last few weeks that Storor helped them pull the material into shape and create a show that could be presented on a public stage. This led to a momentarily disconcerting shift of gear. It seemed strange to be suddenly working to a tight schedule, commented one girl in rehearsal, after “a year and a half when we were completely free and had all the time in the world”. Tiny details of staging suddenly had to be decided, with one boy asking: “Will the apple be a Granny Smith or a Pink Lady?”

Yet Storor was determined to retain the freshness and emotional truth of the material and has structured it so that there are only two moments in the whole show when the actors must end up at exactly the same places every night.

It is performed in a tight circular space with stage hands, props and the four musicians clearly visible. Personal photographs and animations are projected on to a single all-round screen.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree
A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy