Drama department tackles bullying through performance of Carrie

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Drama department tackles bullying through performance of Carrie

The cast of Carrie rehearses choreography for their show which opens on October thirty first.

The cast of Carrie rehearses choreography for their show which opens on October thirty first.

Siobhan Morley

The cast of Carrie rehearses choreography for their show which opens on October thirty first.

Siobhan Morley

Siobhan Morley

The cast of Carrie rehearses choreography for their show which opens on October thirty first.

Maria Vaaler, Student Life Editor

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Telekinesis, a hyper-religious mother and gallons of pig blood may set up the perfect horror story, but the Spartan drama department hopes their upcoming musical leaves attendees with the belief that equally horrifying things are a reality for countless teens across America.

The Pleasant Valley Theater Department is no stranger to taking on the challenge of darker or more sensational productions. Yet, with its upcoming horror musical, Carrie, the department hopes to turn the focus away from sensation and controversy in favor of a more educational message. 

The musical, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, centers around high schooler Carrie White, who has been the butt of many cruel jokes since elementary school. Though the musical is an improbable horror story at its core, its subject matter of bullying and the focus on the insecurities all of the characters face depict a very real horror of adolescence. 

Senior Amy Oberhart plays Sue Snell, a former bully attempting to make up for her actions towards the titular character. Oberhart said that the complexities of the characters in the production, though challenging to portray, bring a notable level of relatability to the musical. 

“The bullying, humiliation and insecurities that Carrie faces can happen to anyone. I’m glad to play Sue and show the audience that even people who may not be the nicest have the opportunity to change and become better people,” Oberhart said.

Though the focus is, of course, to put on a memorable and entertaining show for the audience, the weighty subject matter of the musical has granted the cast and crew the opportunity to engage in conversations surrounding bullying and its impact on high school students. 

Pleasant Valley theatre director, William Myatt, said shows like Carrie act as emotional outlets and discussion points for those involved to share their own experiences. By creating an environment where students can discuss bullying openly and without fear of ridicule, he hopes to limit incidents of bullying in and out of the theater department.

“It’s the people who feel they can’t talk about bullying and their experiences with it, the ones who feel alone, who look to hurt themselves and others,” Myatt said.

While preparing for the show has certainly granted the cast opportunities to examine bullying and the culture surrounding it, doing so has not been easy thanks to the show’s many challenges.

Myatt emphasized that the multidimensionality of the characters is a serious challenge for young performers, but that it must be addressed in order to deliver the true message of the show. 

“My greatest fear is that the controversy becomes the story, that we are doing this show purely for sensational shock value. Then I wouldn’t be able to achieve the goal of utilizing theater to educate,” he said.

While the book and movies were impactful in their own ways, the musical pushes the message as opposed to the horror, creating the opportunity for discussion of bullying, Myatt noted. “What is unique about the stage production is that it follows this cyclical format which ends with the characters discussing the aftermath of their actions rather than just ending with the spectacle,” he said.

Myatt, like the cast and crew, is eagerly awaiting the opening show and the opportunity to deliver an enthralling performance to the audience. 

But his greatest hope for the show is that it will “serve as a safe springboard” for vital discussion of bullying in high school.