Middle school is a notoriously difficult stage in a child’s life. It’s an awkward, in-between time when the world seems topsy-turvy and things don’t always work out as you hope. The transition phase from youngster to young adult can be painful and sometimes traumatic but Godby High School theater students are using a creative strategy to help.
Inspired by her own high school theater experience, Randi Lundgren, director of theatre arts at Godby, recognizes the theater’s potential to spread a message of compassion and support. In that spirit, her students have created an original variety show titled “Hold On, It's Just the Middle.” The production reinforces the idea that it does get better and offers skits, poems, scenes, monologues, choreography, songs, and pantomimes, about life during and after the middle years.
“The world has changed since I was in high school,” Lundgren said. “Middle schoolers need this now more than ever. There are many more things that we need to talk about, especially with the uptick in the teenage suicide rate and social media. The bullying doesn’t happen physically so much anymore, it’s now virtual.”
The show deals with parent and child relationships, suicide prevention, depression, social media responsibility, positive body image, anti-drug and alcohol abuse, anti-violence, acceptance of others and understanding and loving oneself.
The subjects are rooted in reality because they are written by Godby theater students about their own personal experiences. They explore deep topics but all the scenes end in a positive and uplifting tone. There will be three days of performances for Leon County middle schoolers as well as a public performance.
“I cast it by saying who identifies with this situation, who feels this way, who’s been through this. Let’s face it, kids can see right through something that’s not authentic. I’ve been hitting that home with my students, saying don’t make it superficial.”
Theater is an especially useful tool for exploring these difficult subjects because it’s a natural outlet for self-expression. “They’re able to take all the stuff they went through, and what they’re still going through, and express it cathartically, which allows them to heal,” Lundgren said.
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