Play brings bullying into the spotlight

The cast of “Sticks and Stones,” from left, Alu Soto, Gabriel Esmurdoc, Catherine O’Rourke, Isabel Teller and Cary Brounley.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 11, 2014 at 6:28 p.m.

The idea that theater can be used to bring about social change is one that Santa Fe College will explore with its latest play.


If you go

What: “Sticks & Stones,” a play about bullying by Santa Fe College
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday through April 19
Where: Building E Auditorium, Santa Fe College, 3000 NW 83rd St.
Cost: Donations of personal items (toothpaste, deodorant, shaving cream)

Bullying is the theme of "Sticks and Stones," which will be performed 7:30 p.m. Thursday through April 19 in Auditorium E on the Northwest Campus.

"It has been an interesting project in that it was student-driven as a writing exercise for theater for social change," said Terry Klenk, director of theater at Santa Fe College.

The play was a collaborative effort among 10 students in an honors class in dramatic literature who wrote the one-act work over the course of a semester.

Students were challenged to find inspiration for the script from different source material, including anonymous postings on the Internet in which people detailed their personal experiences with bullying.

"The story is told from the idea of survivorship," Klenk said.

While bullying is a topic that many relate to grade-schoolers, the play targets an audience in their mid-20s, with adult characters who evaluate life after the bullying, he said.

The students used recurring themes they found in the source material to build the stories of four characters who struggle with sexuality, self-esteem issues, weight problems and being too smart.

The fifth character is himself a bully and doesn't understand why.

The play was performed for a group of middle school students on Friday, after a special request by the Alachua County School Board.

"It's a commendable effort on [Klenk's] part for a couple of reasons," Gregg Jones, theater professor at Santa Fe, said about the play.

"Sticks and Stones" addresses a hot-button issue and provides great outreach on behalf of the fine arts department, he said. It also serves to engage students and create a dialogue about those issues.

Admission to the performance is free, but those who attend are asked to bring personal items such as toothpaste or deodorant to be donated to The Replenishment of Everyday Essentials Program of the Gainesville Area AIDS Project.

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