Middle School thespians took to the stage to tackle the tough issue of bullying in a series of short plays called Bullying, Ink. From social media to overt bullying, from the feeling of being on the outside to the stress young people face today, performers creatively showed the audience what it’s like to be on both sides. Alice Ma ’23 said, “This play brings attention to a serious matter. I think it’s great that they focused on both the bully and the victim.”
Charlotte Dougherty, 7th Grade Dean and Middle School Drama Teacher, selected the work. The 7th/8th grade play alternates between being a comedy one year and a drama the next. “It’s hard to find age-appropriate dramas for children,” she said, “and I had been looking for something that talks about bullying, because it’s timely.” She was encouraged that students were able to use the stage as a safe zone to explore a topic so prevalent in the media. Virginia Portell ’24 reflected on her experience, “I loved being part of such a caring and fun environment!”
Actors cast as “mean characters” struggled to be mean, and Dougherty used that discomfort to talk about bullying and how quickly it can escalate. On social media, she pointed out, it’s easy for posts to quickly degenerate from a funny joke to an evil, hurtful thing. “Students realized that everyone has the capacity to be mean, and that it’s important to reflect and think about whether they’ve ever behaved this way.” The play sparked conversation between the actors and their peers, and their parents. Dougherty said, “The great thing about theater is that it holds a mirror up to the audience and asks, ‘what do you think about this?’”
“The subject of bullying was a hard and unique subject matter to act,” said Avery Summers ’24. “My character was an uncomfortable and awkward teenager. I had to act as if I was intimidated and uncomfortable with myself around others. It was tough for the other actors to be rude and obnoxiously mean, too, but we all got through it. It was so fun to watch my friends become a whole different person!”
What happens when you start to lose your voice while you’re rehearsing? Intisar Iqbal ’24 took advantage of the situation and used his broken voice to build his character’s believability. “I started having voice cracks, then I realized that I could include them into my character personally as a shy, geeky teen.”
Alice Ma ’23 had to explore a new persona, too. “I’m glad I got to play a character very different from myself. The hard parts for me were running lines off stage because I wasn’t comfortable with saying words like ‘loser’ or ‘shut up.’ Since I started to pay more attention to bullying because of the play, I found out that bullying is a lot closer to you than you think it is.”
Allison Pfefferkorn ’23 agreed. “I had a really great time with the play. I love theater, and it was really fun and I got to know a lot of the people better,” she said. “It was definitely harder doing a more serious play, but I had a humorous scene. The best part was hanging out with the other cast members.”
Congratulations to the cast and crew of Bullying, Ink. You delivered a wonderful performance loaded with meaning!