When They Go Low by Natalie Mitchell

When They Go Low by Natalie Mitchell

When social media goes into a frenzy over pictures of a girl at a party, Louise's teacher lectures all the schoolgirls on taking more responsibility for their actions. Enraged that it's them getting reprimanded – and not the boys who took the pictures – Louise wages war on the school's systemic misogyny. Natalie Mitchell's play When They Go Low explores everyday feminism, consent and the changing face of teenage sexuality in an online world.

Published by Nick Hern Books: https://www.nickhernbooks.co.uk/when-they-go-low


Where did the idea for the play come from?

It was an amalgamation of a few things I'd been thinking about for a while- the first was the way gossip spreads so quickly online, and how it warps and changes. I knew I wanted to write something that found a way to explore that through form, which is why the chorus is so important in the piece. I was also interested in the different ways young men and women are treated- there was a newspaper article I'd read about a teenage girl who'd tried to set up a feminist society at her school, and how badly she was treated because of it- that essentially gave me the core narrative. As I was writing, the Clinton vs. Trump election was really picking up steam too, so the idea of an election felt like a useful element to hang the story onto. 


The play tackles a serious subject, but there’s a lot of humour in the play.  Why is it important to make sure the cast have something fun to work with?

No one ever likes to feel like they're being lectured, so if this play is going to have an impact on it's cast and audience, it needs to have a lightness of touch. There's one particular scene (the girls catwalk where they're being rated) which embodies that- it starts off light and funny- the audience should be laughing- until they realise just how demeaning it is. Also, when you're rehearsing a play for weeks and months- you need to enjoy it! I think comedy really helps with that. 


What conversations would you hope can come out of the rehearsal room?

A greater understanding of what feminism and equality means and looks like right now. Politically the movement is divided (as is everyone really), so it's a chance to explore and develop individual perspectives and attitudes. To listen and learn from each other. And how important it is for everyone- not just women, to be invested in the fight for equality.