Life lessons through theater: Eighth-grade playwrights take on issue of bullying
The scene unfolding on stage could have been unfolding in real life — which was exactly the point.
The Discovery Middle School play, "Welcome to Camp Brown Bear," is set at a fictional summer camp and addresses the issue of bullying. It was written by members of the Eighth-Grade Playwrights Club. It follows the journey of Katherine, who attends summer camp and is bullied.
"One of her older, close friends starts to take advantage of her and bully her," said Anna Meehan, who plays the main character, Kathryn, and helped write the script. "It kind of follows the journey and you see why people choose to be bullies and what the effects of bullying are on the average teenager."
According to Meehan, most members of the playwrights club had personal experience with bullying and wanted to take express why it was such an issue.
"I was personally bullied this year and it was the first time that ever happened to me," Meehan said. "A lot of people come to our shows and we thought it would be good if we could make something more relatable, something that could resonate with the people not just in the cast, but with the people who come to see it."
Even if they were not personally victims of bullying, playwright club member Olivia Brault says everyone involved in the play had somehow been touched by bullying.
"Each of us had experienced a little bit of bullying," she said. "Not necessarily us being bullied, but our friends being bullied. We wanted to address the issue because we had noticed a lot of it in the last couple years at the middle school."
More than 70 students are involved in every aspect of the play, including the writing, set, lights, costume and acting.
The eighth-graders say they enjoyed writing the play and seeing it come together with everyone's ideas.
"It was really cool because I was assigned to write for a main character," Meehan said. "That let me put not only what the whole group wanted, but my own personal touches into the story. Then you can feel everyone's thoughts and intentions together into one big thing."
Brault says the hope is that the audience can take away real-life lessons from the performance.
"(The idea is that) even if you go through tough times there is always someone you can talk to," she said. "You don't have to take out what you are experiencing on someone else."
Welcome to Camp Brown Bear
WHEN: Friday, March 16, at 6 p.m., Saturday, March 17, at 1 and 4 p.m.
WHERE: Discovery Middle School Auditorium
COST: Tickets are free to the public and available at the door.
* Eighth-grade playwright