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Two flamboyant characters sat in the center of the first row; I saw their hands dancing wildly in the air while I tiptoed quietly into the theatre so as not to pop their bubble of eccentricity. However, the heavy door’s loud click as it closed behind me gave me away, causing one director to spiral upwards out of his chair and introduce himself. I managed a smile and whispered my name; in turn, he pointed toward the stage where the veteran thespians were already forming small conclaves of talent. The pianist’s thin fingers played a quick melody, causing everyone to gather around her. She played a song much bigger than she, and we were given the daunting task of trying to sing along.
Fast-forward eight months: we had worked together to master a million dance steps and weathered one bout of bronchitis, numerous hand cramps, and one fundraising Christmas pageant. There I was, on the same stage, yet completely different. Our acting brigade had turned us into small-town celebrities. Unlike the usual performances, ours was handwritten to spotlight a heavy epidemic among adolescents. The issue of bullying is not new to our generation, but it is now of a different type. Our show, titled “Normal,” showcased the different types of bullying and teen issues that run rampant through the school system. It wasn’t a show about standing up to bullies physically; rather, its purpose was to give students enough self-assuredness that they wouldn’t be as affected by it. A medley of monologues and quick vignettes were dispersed among regular scenes, and we all played ourselves in different capacities.
Teenage behavior transcends time, and its characteristic forms are implacable. It is ruthless, and I experienced it. I didn’t want to cower and recuperate. I wanted to fight back. After seeing an advertisement in the community about involvement in the program, I realized that it was the perfect outlet for my voice. I could escape my typical circle of friends and fight to reform my peers. Even if I could not change their actions, I could help others become resistant to them. Our motto was, “If we can touch one student, one audience member, we’ve satisfied our purpose.” My vision was bigger than this. Maybe if my peers saw their acts of verbal and physical violence onstage, they would think twice. I needed to show my school and community that kindness is crucial to the survival of everyone; high school should not have a Darwinian ideology. We should peacefully coexist.
After the show, I realized that many people are incapable of change. I also realized that many people are much braver than they believe themselves to be. Audience members spoke up during our question-and-answer session, and some of my peers confronted each other with apologies. I learned from my cast members too; they were some of the most enlightening personalities I have ever had the pleasure of working beside. We were each completely different; our microcosm was the definition of abnormality. We were a collaboration of kindred souls; unlike normal friends, we were not united by common personalities. Instead, we were united by our common goal to end bullying.
I am content with the show’s effect on my peers, but its effect on me has been much longer lasting. I became self-assured, brave, and unique. At the beginning of rehearsals, my soprano voice rang with fear, but it has since become strong and clear. I had a vision to change my classmates, and although they became more kind, the profound effect that the show had on me changed my vision of myself.
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