Student Research Projects

Reasons to be Pretty

Student Ashley Shipman, '17
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Theatre
Course TH 424: Theatre Practicum


Neil LaBute\'s Tony Award winning Reasons to be Pretty is a hard-edged comedy that ridicules society\'s obsession with physical appearances. It forces audiences to question why we are so quick to judge others looks and the changes they make for other people. The play exposes several gender stereotypes (mainly about women). These references are apparent in Greg and Kent\'s lines. The play\'s only male characters often discuss \"typical\" female behaviors and the physical attributes they believe women must possess in order to be considered/labeled \"Pretty\" in today\'s society. By researching published articles, reviews, and interviews on the playwright and some of his other works, one can notice that LaBute is fascinated with writing (and staying true) to everyday human experiences. His continuous theme(s) on beauty or lack thereof, illuminates the insecurities people have about their own looks and/or body and how we as humans are naturally sensitive to people\'s judgments. In the VWC production of LaBute\'s Reasons to be Pretty, the director and actors had to explore different ways to enhance the meanings in the characters lines to depict for or make the audience confront their own expectations of beauty. It presents the idea to audiences that if we were less judgmental, society would be a better place and all people; regardless of gender, race, class, etc., would be able to live a peaceful and happy life.