“In the Forest, She Grew Fangs”, produced by the Department of Theatre, is a twist on the classic fairytale of Little Red Riding Hood. The play takes the audience on a journey with Lucy who was played by Cassie Biltz as she struggles with the internal conflict of her sexuality along with the consequences of bullying.
The play modernized the fairytale through the 95-minute production as it portrayed themes of what is normal versus what is not normal and how we are perceived versus who we are. The main theme, however; seems to be that we become what people say you are. This is seen through the journey of Lucy as she battles with her inner demons along with her classmates telling her that she is “a nobody” and calling her homophobic names. In the end, Lucy becomes the “wolf” that has been inside of her and seeks revenge on every person who has done her wrong, when all she wanted in life was to be noticed.
The two other main characters, Jenny played by Tajionna Anderson-Clinton and Hunter played by Tyler Hahn, follow a similar plot. Both of them have their own “wolves” inside of them. Hunter was once the fat 11-year old who got bullied for his size and Jenny is the new girl who is automatically sexualized because of her appearance.
The production allows for the audience to understand a character’s backstory through the monologues that act as a pathos strategy; while at the same time reflect the themes of bullying, the struggle to fit in, and the thought of being trapped in a provincial town with no future. There are a few ways that the characters escape, especially with Lucy and Jenny. Lucy takes long walks into the woods until she finds a man-made lake that if she walks deep enough in, the ground will disappear and she sinks under. This is a way that Lucy tries to cleanse herself of her struggles. Jenny walks in the woods because it is the only place where nobody can talk to her until she comes upon Lucy whom she saves from drowning in the lake one night. This is the start of Lucy becoming infatuated with Jenny because Jenny had saved her, she had noticed her and adds to the internal conflict of Lucy’s sexuality.
After the production, there was a gender studies meeting that focused on the topic of “Sex Matters”. The basis of the discussion was how Lucy handles her sexuality and how the other characters are portrayed. The panel discussed the idea that our culture makes women fearful of becoming labeled as a “slut” or a “nobody” or described as “easy”, that value is placed on being the righteous one. The concept of a private vs public sphere for women also came up and that is basically in public women are sexualized in advertisements with the “perfect body” while in the private sphere women are called “sluts” and “whores” because of how they dress.
The production tackles the concept of being judged for your sexuality and being rejected because unfortunately these “norms” are part of society today and if you stray from the path of these societal norms you are put in danger of being ridiculed. “In the Forest, She Grew Fangs” modernizes the themes of ridicule, bullying, and perception as it follows the story of Lucy and how she became the “wolf” that had lived inside her.