Award-nominated play I Met A Bully On the Hill to be staged at Scott Block
Everybody is sometimes a bully, sometimes a victim and sometimes a passive bystander, said Tree House Youth Theatre’s artistic director Matt Gould.
“It’s a circle. ... We’ve all done it — called somebody a name or been unduly harsh to get our way. ... (Bullying) takes all kinds of forms,” he added.
For this reason, four young Red Deer actors will take turns depicting all three roles in a Tree House Youth Theatre production that runs this weekend.
The award-nominated Canadian play I Met A Bully On the Hill, by Martha Brooks and Maureen Hunter, will be staged at the Scott Block at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday.
This public performance will precipitate future stagings of the play at the Red Deer College Arts Centre, where it will be viewed by about 1,000 elementary school students.
Gould noted the one-act play, which was in the running for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Production when it was mounted by Theatre Direct in Toronto, was actually written in the 1980s but continues to be relevant today.
In some ways, the basic bullying depicted when the character of J.J. is threatened for walking to school over a hill that’s been claimed by an aggressive schoolmate, has been eclipsed by more sophisticated cyber bullying.
By using the Internet, Gould said bullies no longer have to be the physically tough kids — in fact, many girls taunt their classmates online, or spread gossip or embarrassing rumours.
“I know some girls can be extremely vicious.”
He believes putting different actors through the roles of bully and victim shows that different kind of kids can engage in the same unacceptable behaviour — or become wounded by it.
Although the actors will change roles in each scene, audience members will understand who’s playing which character because of different-coloured arm bands the actors will be wearing, said Gould.
The four teenagers in the production have also turned their own stories of bullying or being bullied into four short vignettes, which will be performed along with the one-act play as part of the 90-minute presentation.
Gould said the show underlines the need to persist and keep telling adults about bullying until someone gets involved and takes action to resolve the problem.
Of course, there’s often no easy solution. And I Met a Bully on the Hill is realistic enough to acknowledge this, said Gould. “The ending is not all that tidy — but then life isn’t either.”
Admission to the 7:30 p.m. show at the Scott Block is by donation ($10 is suggested). It’s suitable for ages six and up.