Theatrefolk - The Drama Teacher Resource Company

Theatrefolk Featured Play - The Happiness Shop

Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight. The Happiness Shop by Lindsay Price is an excellent class project that explores important issues for students.

Three middle school students find themselves in an odd curiosity shop. They don’t know what it is, where they are, or how they got there. But that’s no surprise. The Happiness Shop is not like any other. It is filled with Roppets.

A Roppet is not quite a robot and not quite a puppet. A Roppet is completely happy all the time. Full of smiles, hugs and hi-fives. Isn’t that all it takes for a middle school student to be happy? They’re too young to have problems.

Blake, Melanie and Wally know that’s not true. They all have pretty big problems. But in the shop they have one question to answer and one question only: What would you do to be completely happy?

Let's hear from the author!

1. Why did you write this play?

I wrote this play specifically for middle school students after a couple of eye opening experiences. First, I watched a 13 year old boy deliver one of my monologues in a competition. The character in the monologue talks about his life and how his family treat him after a suicide attempt. The monologue was written for a 16 year old character and the impact of seeing it done by a 13 year old was huge. Does suicide happen in middle school?

Secondly the director of one of my plays shared a rehearsal exercise she did with her cast in which her middle school students wrote on post-it notes the positive and negative things they say to themselves or hear others say to them. The negative board had three times more post-its than the positive one. (The exercise is included in this play's free Classroom Study Guide.) Do middle school students get depressed?

I’m the first to admit, until writing this play I did not fully realize that middle school students could experience depression. I thought depression didn’t hit until high school.

That’s when I started researching the topic. I found that not only do middle school students get depressed but it’s often overlooked as laziness, and ignored because they’re “too young” to be depressed. Many times the issue is never addressed. I knew I had to bring this issue to life in a play.

2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences?

Happiness does not come from burying your feelings and pretending to be happy. Students suffering from depression are not alone in their feelings and they don’t need to suffer alone.

3. What's the most important visual for you in this play?

The Roppets. They are supposed to be completely happy and smile all the time. But what's hiding behind those smiles?

4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?

Be prepared for discussions. You never know how students are going to be affected by being in the play. You may want to discuss the play with the guidance department. You are not a therapist and shouldn't take on that role.

5. Why is this play great for student performers?

The play demonstrates the different faces of middle school depression and the different choices made because of it. Not all the choices these students make are good ones. I feel that’s important to stage. I think, too, it's important to show positive choices.

6. Who is your favourite character in the play?

Phoenix is Melanie's best friend and I absolutely loved writing for them. The character is weird and loves being weird. They are not popular and are often bullied, but still has a great outlook on their life. They see their bullies as sad animals and never lets the bullies actions affect them.

7. What is your favourite line in the play?

"Oh you did help me. You helped me see myself."

Products referenced in this post: The Happiness Shop

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