Last night I was attended opening night of Mean - a show about school bullying written and performed by the Youth Performance Company.  If you have or know kids who are in junior high or high school, you should take them to this show.  In fact, the website says recommended for 4th grade and up.

A friend of mine serves on the board for YPC and invited me to attend their Behind the Curtain before the show which was a chance to hear more about the company, what they do, and hear from staff members and some of the young artists. It was nice because it helped to have a better understanding of YPC and I think it even helped me appreciate last night's show even more.

So, on to the show.  It was terrific.  It's a heavy subject that has been coming to the surface more in the last couple of years, it seems.  Bullying in schools has always existed but didn't always get the attention it is now. We've all seen it in the news - some kid getting hurt (or killed) by bullies (or sometimes their so-called friends). And then we see on the news about a kid ending their own life because they felt they couldn't handle the pressure anymore.  It's heartbreaking and in many cases, avoidable.

I applaud YPC for taking on this topic - I think they were able to show bullies, the bullied, and the bystanders in a way that identified in some way to almost each audience member - and how friends, teachers, and parents can make a difference.  The young artists in this show really have a lot of talent and I was really impressed by the music and the voices.  And they did it in a way that is serious, but energetic and engaging.

As an aside, as I was watching a new scene came on and I was like "I know her!" -- One of my co-workers from where I interned in college played one of the mom's in the play.  Small world!

At the end of the show, they gave some interesting statistics - and though I'm not sure of the source, I'll share, anyway.  They said that:
  • 15-20% of kids have admitted to being bullied regularly
  • 15-20% of kids have admitted to bullying
And then they made a point that hit home.  Given those numbers, that means there are more than 50% who are bystanders who see it happen. And bystanders don't often do anything.  I've been a bystander -not proudly - but I have.  You probably have, too.

So, if you have a chance, I recommend going to this show - even if you don't have kids to bring with you.  And share the show link with others who may be interested or have kids in these age ranges.   It plays through the end of February.


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