King’s Academy, March 9, 2017 – The Middle School at King’s Academy presented this week two performances of its first theater production Hoodies and Box. The production, comprising two vignette plays by playwright Lindsay Price, was performed by 23 students taking theater as an afterschool Engage activity. The students spent the past three months preparing for their acting debut at King’s.
Dean of the Middle School Reem Abu Rahmeh directed one group of students in Box while School Counselor Sarah Nino directed the second group in Hoodies. A vignette play is a collection of short scenes following a central theme. The themes of the two plays represent issues that Middle School students face on a daily basis, such as body image, bullying and peer pressure.
“We chose these plays by Lindsay Price because they are very true to our Middle Schoolers’ experiences,” said Abu Rahmeh. “We wanted the opportunity to talk about some of these issues in our rehearsals.”
In the opening scene of Box, the 11 student actors held up different boxes representing who they are or were expected to be. Through small, fast-paced scenes and monologues, the actors demonstrated the ways young people handle the boxes imposed upon them because of their gender, peer pressure or parental expectations. As one of the lines in the play reads: "This is the box my parents want for me. This is who my parents want me to be. A shining star… I don’t want to disappoint my parents, but this is not my box."
Hoodies examines image and appearance and the whirlwind of questions that go through Middle Schoolers’ minds where they are constantly worried about how they look, what they are wearing, and if they are wearing the wrong thing. Hoodies poses the most difficult question of all: do I fit in with the crowd or do I stand alone?
“Through their characters the students showed us what they are facing every day in school and portrayed how they feel as well as their physical and emotional changes,” said Nino. “The best part of directing Hoodies was seeing the amazing cast bonding with their characters and those emotions.”
The vignette nature of the plays allowed each student to have a better acting experience, according to Abu Rahmeh, with more lines each and the opportunity to play different characters representing different sides of the issues at hand.
Aman Serhan ’22 played several characters including Hoodie who was bullied for being new and used her hoodie to shield herself against the world; in another role she played the bully. Although she said the characters she played are the opposite of who she is, she has seen those kinds of situations take place many times.
“People want to hide in a corner because they don’t know what is the right thing to do,” said Serhan. “If they stand out they are made fun of and if they are quiet people think something is wrong with them. People should stop judging and making fun of each other, they need to understand that we’re all equal. We need to make sure people understand that they shouldn’t have that kind of attitude.”
At his previous school, Ali AbuGhosh ’21 said, there were fights every week and he saw how some kids were picked on and alienated no matter what they did. At King’s though, he feels the Middle Schoolers haven’t had these problems.
“The small community here has led to all the students being really friendly with one another,” said AbuGhosh. “At King’s they emphasize the fact that people come from a variety of backgrounds with different ideas and thoughts, which is why I think it’s such an accepting community.”
Despite their positive experience at King’s, Serhan and AbuGhosh agree that all students have a responsibility to speak up when they see bullying behavior.
“There’s a fine line between teasing and making fun of someone,” said AbuGhosh. “If we see our friend doing something wrong, my friends and I have this code where we call them out on it.”
Serhan urged anyone being bullied or facing any problem to talk to a school counselor or adult. “If they don’t speak up no one will help them, nothing will change and they will keep feeling bad. They should alert someone.”
The themes hit close to home for young and old alike, according to Nino, because everyone has faced a similar situation at some point in their lives. As a result, the cast’s passionate performance of Hoodies and Box engrossed its audience and successfully highlighted the many challenges of growing up and navigating tumultuous Middle School waters.