Bullying, suicide, school violence, homophobia, troubled families… As parents, we try to protect our teenage children from many of these issues which are painful, difficult, and all too real in the lives of many children today. When it was announced that Company would do Heathers the Musical (High School Edition) as its Spring Production, some members of our community were skeptical and asked, “Why Heathers?!?”
What happens when the audience sees a character experiencing struggle, doubt, and pain? Empathy. Our vision in choosing plays such as Heathers the Musical is to downplay the scandal, and rather expose the truth of teen experiences in this dark comedy that are expressed in sometimes absurd and exaggerated ways. As Lasallians, we are committed to helping our students to view others with respect and reverence- affirming their dignity, value, and importance in the eyes of God and our community.” - Company Artistic Director, Ms. Meredith Barnidge
For the last few years De La Salle and Carondelet, as two schools, one community, have helped our students wrestle with uncomfortable content as an impetus for dialogue and action based in concert with the productions we have chosen. This is very intentional on the part of our faculty Company directors and the schools’ administrations. Issues that our communities have sought to address, Company has integrated into performances, extending that conversation with our show’s audiences.
This is yet another extension of the curricular work and opportunities for dialogue that happen on campus, outside of the theater and Company, that we hope creates conversation in our homes. It is in that dialogue, that we create space for things that are hopeful, kind, and loving, and we empower our students to speak and stand against negatively and cruelty. In some cases the conversation has been ongoing, such as our school-wide conversations on masculinity awareness around gender-based harassment and violence that came before our production of Dogfight.
In the case of Heathers, this has taken place with our implementation of Community Time and specific mental health check-ins we’ve been doing with students as well as our Mental Health Awareness Week (September), Laps for Life event (February), and the launching of a new student club, Bring Change to Mind. Company incorporate empathy exercises during the rehearsal process and will workshop with our partner, BeingWellCA.
We have been engaged with students in helping them think about and take action on their mental health. Heathers the Musical surfaces lots of issues that our students are collectively dealing with: anxiety, fitting in, depression, navigating the social circles/norms of high school, and also surfaces ones that have risen to national prominence: bullying, homophobia, and the epidemic of gun violence in schools.
The schools are pleased that Company is a place of Educational Theater. A place where art helps to enlighten, raise awareness, and open dialogue that benefits individuals involved, the audience, and the wider community. The content of Heathers will be part of wider school conversations on the themes raised in the performance in collaboration with the school's Student Support team and various academic departments as well as community mental health groups.
Heathers the Musical: High School Edition
Book, Music and Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy
Based on the film written by Daniel Waters
Heathers the Musical: (High School Edition) is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals
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