Thursday, March 8, 2012

Shining a Spotlight on: The Bully.

Students in the project showcased their artwork with a cool series of posters addressing the subject of bullying.  One in particular used a live person, in front the poster in order to tie in the human point of view within the poster.

It was decided we would focus on this subject for the acting portion of the workshop. 

The work by the project members leaped from page to stage with one of the first scenes in West Side Story dealing with bullying.  Members identified the first scene between Riff and Tony as a form of bullying.  Yes, even a friend can bully a friend, just by simply applying pressure on them to do something they know is wrong.

Riff:         Jets are the greatest!

Tony:         Were...

Riff:         Are!

The actors showcasing this scene for the group, took the last two lines from this exchange – "Were."  "Are!" – and tossed them back and forth at each other at great length – using the experience of a repetition exercise they had tried earlier in the day during warm-ups – only now with Riff: “Are!”, being more aggressive and persuasive and Tony: “Were...”, making an attempt to avoid and deflect.  It was funny at times to watch, and also, very interesting as it developed and grew deeper in meaning – for the actors and the observers.  Especially as the police officers and the students began to identify: physical, vocal and emotional choices each actor naturally employed to accomplish their individual goals – tone, gesture, physical stance, feelings - much like a real life scene between two friends with different viewpoints on a subject.  The more aggressive, it was determined, displayed classic elements of bullying.  The recipient, clearly, they felt, was the victim.

Students then shared stories about their own choices in certain situations, with the most telling being one story by a young man about listening to all of the other voices around him, without listening to himself.  The most important voice, he learned, and shared, was after the fact.  It was indeed his own voice.  Because that is who he was left listening to after everything was over.  Himself.  Alone.  And in the end, he learned that that was all he had to depend on in making a decision at the beginning.  Himself.  Alone.  A lesson learned – and a life lesson portrayed through the acting scene showcased within a session of The West Side Story Project.

- Tommy Demenkoff, PossibleArts

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