We're entering our final week of rehearsals, and I feel so many emotions--fear, joy, pride, excitement. This process has raised so many questions for me about community-engaged performance. When this is all over, I will write more about that. In the meantime, here are some pics from rehearsal. These are our "postures of distress."
Since late October, Ebon and Stephanie, my actors, have come to my house on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to rehearse during Clem's naps. Their improvisations have been invaluable to the writing process.
Together, we have created two protagonists--Ashley and Chris--and an in-progress storyline. Chris moves schools due to intense bullying but, unfortunately, the bullying continues. Ashley, a girl at Chris' new school, wants nothing more than to be in "The Clique." Getting "in," according to Ashley, means putting up with the taunts and jabs of "The Clique." When Ashley's crush, Derek, invites her to "The Clique's" next party, Ashley jumps at the chance. There's just one caveat....she has to bring Chris. Why? She's not sure, but she suspects the worst. Ashley must choose between getting into "The Clique" and her friendship with Chris. This storyline is interspersed by interactive exercises to help students understand how it feels to be the target and why people bully as well as giving them the opportunity to rehearse ways to combat bullying.
In addition to playing our protagonists, Stephanie and Ebon supply the voices for our antagonists, Tiffanie and Derek. Last rehearsal, Spencer recorded them as our "bullies." He will take Ebon and Stephanie's recordings and play with the pitch to make their voices different enough.
We have one more week to rehearse, and then it is time to present the first version of our play!
About the Author: April Gentry-Sutterfield is a director, deviser, educator, and mom who uses theatre as a tool for social justice, education, and community engagement.