Playwriting Student Ming Peiffer Discusses Her Thesis Play

April 25, 2016

Current student Ming Peiffer's thesis play, Usual Girls, ran at the Ford Studio at Pershing Square Signature Center on April 22 and 23. Usual Girls is a work-in-progress play about female sexuality and misogyny that combines elements of autobiography with an invented coming-of-age narrative. The production features an all-female creative team and female-dominated cast.

Can you tell us a little bit about the origin of this play? Where did the idea come from? Did you work on it in class?
Strangely, this play began as a play about Dov Charney, the former CEO of American Apparel, smashed up with real conversations between me and my director, Kat Yen, about sexual experiences growing up and the culture of misogyny we live in. I quickly became disinterested in centering a play around a pretty big scumbag, and so the real-life interviews stayed and the American Apparel storyline was replaced with autobiographical sketches of my life growing up female in the Midwest and then moving to New York.

Usual Girls is a collage-like meditation on early female sexuality and the social conditioning that teaches women to function as sexual objects in our society. A seemingly traditional coming-of-age narrative, the play’s story is complicated when the creators of the show begin interjecting their own real-life experiences with sex and abuse, hijacking the fictional narrative and turning it into a multifaceted look at what it means to grow up female in our world.

Who is your mentor? Why did you want them as your mentor?
David Henry Hwang. David is an amazing playwright who truly cares about the younger generation of theatre artists. He has an almost criminal sense of dramatic structure and his dialogue is filled with intellectual comedy and keen wit. He’s also one of the hardest-working people I know. I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with him. David is the bomb.

Read more about Peiffer and Usual Girls here. Tickets for Usual Girls are free and can be reserved here.