I wanted to share another accomplishment that I had hoped to complete on the subject of bullying. About a year ago an old friend of mine from High School called me. She is now the Drama teacher at my old High School and knew of my involvement in the anti-bullying movement. She asked if I wanted to write a play with her and her class for them to perform on the subject of bullying in school.
I certainly did. I had written 5 plays during my life, none of which have been produced and most, at this point, shouldn’t be. They were certainly learning exercises. But this play was one that I wanted to help write and see performed.
In October we started down the road of what eventually became a 30-minute one-act play called “Standing Up”. I met with her class of students several times, sharing stories and discussing the issue of bullying and stories I have collected about teen bullying. We discussed how this play could be done. The students wanted to help write the play, so they took first stab. I helped them develop scenes, but they did much of the work to come up with scene concepts. They developed and wrote about 11-12 minutes of the play.
My friend, the Drama teacher, and I then took on completing the rest of the dialogue and scenes until we had a good 30-minute play. It was both a labor of love and tough to write from an honest viewpoint, but also keeping an audience in mind. The play was to be performed at a regional Virginia one-act festival, but, due to snow, the group could not make the event. It was disappointing.
But this week, at the High School, the play was premiered and performed for about 100 students and I was able to attend. When the lights went down, the students were noisy and then the actors came out on the stage. As the dramatic opening dialogue started, the auditorium fell to silence and for the next 30 minutes, I experienced feelings I have never had before, watching a performance that I helped write and conceive. The students even chose to include one of my life experiences into the story. To say it was dramatic and emotional would not quite put it in perspective.
As it ended and the audience clapped in appreciation, there was still quiet. The kids watching knew and felt the emotion from the play. They left quietly, no typical noisy exit of teenage students. Teachers came to me to thank us for writing and putting it on. Many asked where it would be performed next. That is something we are working on, because I hope that others feel it should be seen.
As I talked to the student actors afterward, I told them that I thought they did make a difference with that performance. I saw audience members touched by the performance. That’s the power of live theater. I hope that this play can be published and performed many times in the future. It is definitely something that I am proud to have had a hand in creating. So if you see that “Standing Up” is being performed in your area or want to have it performed, feel free to let me know. I would love to see that happen.