We've all had it happen to us. Some of us worse than others, but everyone who's lived past the age of eighteen has at some point in their lives been the target of a bully. For me it was a boy named Chris who used to torture me at the bus stop (are you reading this you jerk?). For a whole year of my life, I started out each morning being called names by a boy who I now realize was too insecure to just hang out and talk to other kids for ten minutes without diverting the focus off of himself. I wonder what it was he was so afraid of the rest of us seeing?
And that's really what's behind the actions of Steve, the muscle behind the Vital Theatre Company's latest musical, THE BULLY. Steve is so insecure about his own faults that he feels compelled to spend his sixth grade days devising ways to make poor, nerdy Leonard's life a living hell. That is, until the two find themselves at a new school with a new bully more powerful than either boy could have imagined. Together, they must face their fears and work as a team to beat the bully and get back to their old school.
If you're like many New York families who frequent the Vital Theatre Company's children's shows, you might have a child who is "aging out" of Vital's season. Most of their shows tend to scale young. In fact, I took my three year old to their production of UNCLE PIRATE and it was a huge hit. But this show slants a bit older. The kids in the story are in sixth grade and the subject of bullying is one best understood by kids over five. My eight year old and her friend loved the production and after the show we had a terrific conversation about bullying and how important it is to be self aware and aware of those around you.
It was all very fitting for the day before Martin Luther King Day, a time when we focus on tolerance and kindness. It brought back memories for me of Chris on the school bus and his mother (who one rainy day, at Chris' request, gave all the kids at the bus stop a ride home except for me....what kind of mother DOES that to another child?). The show made me and my kids consider not only the plight of the bully, but of the bully him (or her) self. This story gave us a little look into what makes a person like that tick, and I think it helped to make all the characters a little more human. Something any bully could certainly aspire to.
GET TO THE POINT, MOM!
- A new musical from Vital Theatre Company that celebrates the plight of the bully and his victim, and teaches us how the two might not be so different.
- Great for kids ages 5 through 10, but OK for kids as young as 4 or old as 12.
- For more information or to buy tickets, visit the Vital Theatre Company's website at http://www.vitaltheatre.org/.
- Shame on you, Chris from the bus stop!
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Erin Leigh Peck is a New York based actor, writer and mother. She has performed on and off Broadway, in regional theatre and on tour, in films and on television. She most recently appeared Off-Broadway in The Toxic Avenger Musical and can often be seen on television in various commercials. Erin's play Mother of Mine is a contemporary 'dramedy' about pregnancy, parenthood and postpartum. She is the proud and busy mother of two extremely awesome kids. Please visit her web site, www.ErinLeighPeck.com. |
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