I received a lovely email this weekend about a recent production of my play Tick Talk. The play is not an easy one – in a nutshell, it deals with the fact that some people have such intense trouble communicating their feelings. How they can never say what they really want to say. To that end the characters have only one word or one sentence to tell their story for the whole play. The only one who gets more than one word is a teen who can’t figure out why he hates himself so much, why others hate him so much and if he can’t figure it out soon, he’s going to do something drastic.
It’s a tough play. Tough thematically, touch technically. It takes a lot of effort from all involved to present the play at it’s best, so I’m always floored when I find it it’s being tackled by a middle school. I think it’s wonderful, some places want their youth to be shielded from tough subjects and tough themes. They only want plays filled with fluffy bunnies. If we don’t talk about problems, if we ignore issues, they don’t exist right?
This school is tackling the tough head on, really going for it. They are talking about the issues and I think the experience will stay with them for a long time. I’m so proud to have played a part in that experience and I wanted to share with you as well. Teacher Jena Aspden from Otto Middle School writes:
I am writing this morning to say THANK YOU. Thank you for writing such a powerful script. I watched your YouTube video that you and Craig made where you talk about the show. You mention the documentary that you watched in which a school shooting takes place. I made up my mind to do to this show in July. Then in December, the unthinkable happens in Connecticut, then a few weeks later in California. This show has allowed my students and I to have REAL conversations. To look at ourselves as human beings, and to look at the world around us with new eyes. I can say it has truly been the hardest show I have ever directed.
Last night was our first performance for an audience. We have another tonight, then we go to competition next week. The audience’s response to the show was overwhelming. I normally sleep like a baby after the first performance, but I couldn’t sleep last night. Conversations that I had with parents and students after the show kept replaying in my mind. I finally posted my thoughts on Facebook. This is what I wrote.
“I have been stressing over One Act these past few weeks… well… Tonight was the first performance and it was greeted at the end with applause, tears, and stunned silence. Needless to say the kids done good!! :) I myself was in tears at the end, and was so proud of my students. Our show has a message. And come competition, win or lose, we will have done our job as artists – we will have made our audience reflect on our society. We will have caused our audience to have conversation. And above all, we will have made our audience THINK!”
I love how this production dove in with both feet to try something tough, something out of their comfort zone and no matter what happens they know they’ve put a piece of theatre out into the world they can be proud of, that has impact. I couldn’t ask for anything more from school doing my work.