Playwright Dina Zeckhausen, a Buckhead psychologist and founder of the Eating Disorders Information Network, created the production 17 years ago, featuring a 13-year-old Katie and her struggles with an eating disorder. The show started out as a play, which was performed by students at the Westminster Schools in Buckhead. Two years ago, Zeckhausen spun the play into a musical, which was performed by local actors at the Alliance Theatre in Midtown.
Now she has rewritten the musical for a college audience featuring an 18-year-old Katie heading off to college and experiencing the pressures of an eating disorder in that environment.
“Basically every line from that show is something I have heard in my office from my clients who are struggling with eating disorders,” said Zeckhausen, who has worked with people with eating disorders for more than 20 years.
After each performance, she will conduct a talk-back session for audience members with the cast and a therapist from the Renfrew Center — a national eating disorder organization that is sponsoring the show along with Active Minds, a student group at Emory focused on reducing the stigma of mental health issues.
“A very helpful technique in working with people struggling with eating disorders is to separate the problem from themselves,” Zeckhausen said. “By using theater, what we do is we have a separate character who represents the eating disorder so you get to hear what it sounds like inside of this girl’s head.”
She said the show, which is free and open to the public, is not just geared to college students with eating disorders.
“It’s for the community at large,” she said. “It’s also very helpful for any family who have had a family member struggle with an eating disorder.”
If you go:
What: “What’s Eating Katie?”
When: Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Where: Harland Cinema in the Dobbs University Center at Emory University, 605 Ashbury Circle, Atlanta