Blank Slate Theatre: Disordered [thy name is teenager]


by Rachel Reiva | 8/23/09 • Disordered [thy name is teenager] On Saturday, August 22nd, I saw a show by a relatively new theatre company called Blank Slate Theatre. Blank Slate Theatre is a company that collaborates with artists’ ages 12 to 18 in producing and performing dramatic works speaking to issues relating to, and impacting, teenagers in America today.

If there was a play that could define teenagers in America today, it would be Disordered. This play was written by teens working with Blank Slate Theatre. This production brought a perspective on teenagers that the media often ignores: that teens, like adults, suffer with mental disorders. It was a mixture of spoken word with acting out monologues of various different characters with mental disorders. The cast talked about various different disorders such as depression, OCD, Anxiety, eating disorders, and ADHD among teenagers.

Although not a disorder, the topic of homosexuality and the difficulty of being both gay and a teen was also acted out. The play talked about different parts of the brain that grow during the teen years. The cast acted out each part of the brain by giving it a different personality – a process I found to be extremely effective and creative. The show did a wonderful job in pointing out society’s faults with labeling teens as being very materialistic, emotionally distraught, and generally being very angry with adults. It suggests that attaching such negative labels to teens prompt teens to believe that they should conform to the labels. It further presents the proposition that when we label teens as mentally ill, such as depressed or bi-polar, they will similarly believe the label and conform to it. The monologues in the show brought a reality to the situation of teens with mental disorders. The show also tackled homosexuality. The actors talked about how a lot of homosexual teens can be oppressed in their school environment.

While some teens do feel free to express themselves, a lot of teens are still ridiculed for being gay. It showed that teens that are gay face more emotional issues dealing with their sexual identity. It really brought a reality on homosexuality in teens today which not many adult know about or else choose to ignore. Before I attended the show, Adam Arnold, Artistic Director of Blank Slate, cautioned me about not having high expectations since they were not The Children’s Theatre or Stages Theatre. But such a caution was unnecessary, the cast and director produced a top rate production that was an outstanding depiction of real teens. It is a show that is worthwhile for both teens and parents to see and discuss. Saturday’s performance was the show’s final public performance but it is one that should definitely be brought back for another run.