The dress rehearsal was held ahead of the roll-out of the programme in ten Auckland high schools the following week. Among the audience were Labour MP for Mangere, Su’a William Sio and his teenage daughter, Dale Ferris (National Network for Stopping Violence), Johnnie Black and Christina Barruel from the Peace Foundation, teachers and students from Albany Senior High School, Kelston Boys High School, Waiuku College and Epsom Girls’ Grammar, parents and friends of the cast and members of SGINZ.
Using music and drama to depict the many forms of bullying and passive violence in a classroom setting, the powerful 20 minute performance highlighted issues facing young Kiwis like physical abuse, binge eating, racism, cyber-bullying and suicide though the lives of the classroom characters. The audience were clearly enthralled. Many had tears in their eyes and the performance ended to a standing ovation.
During the discussion forum that took place after the performance, it became clear that the characters and stories were based on the cast members’ own personal experiences of not fitting in, being different and coping with internal and external put-downs. Audience members asked questions about what respect means to youth, the meaning of passive violence and the difference between arrogance and respect.
The end of the discussion, a representative from the Police as well as the Peace Foundation and the other anti-violence groups expressed interest in collaborating with SGINZ to promote the anti- bullying programme. Two additional schools also signed up to having iChoose performed at their schools.
What the audience said
“A very powerful way to ‘touch’ young people – it was an authentic approach through music, dance, song, drama – mediums which young people love! What I learnt was that each character was telling their own story and the performance of each member of the case was very convincing as a result. It was an awesome piece of work.” – Christina Barruel (Cool Schools National manager and Trainer, Peace Foundation)
“Short, sharp, to the point – it was easy to digest from a young person’s perspective. There was excellent delivery and opportunity for discussion after.” Dale Ferris, Project Manager for the Respect All People (RAP) Project
“I would like to commend the cast and crew for the show. The key thing for me was the dialogue in the end when I learnt that even though the cast were depicting a character, it was based on their own stories. It was powerful, brilliant and real. These are real stories that people can relate to, even in my family. These made it more powerful – the personal stories and how they overcame their struggle. I would like to talk to the organisers to take it further than the ten schools in Auckland. “ Su’a William Sio (Labour MP for Mangere)
“The performance was very emotive. It will connect powerfully with our young people. A very authentic stimulus to further conversation.” G. Ditchburn, Dean Waiuku College
“I was suitably impressed with the extent of the work that has been done by the company. The performance at times exceeded expectations. My only perceived criticism was that the music seemed to drown out the initial dialogue, an issue which appeared to be rectified quickly.” Philip Woodhall-Martin.
Kelston Boys High School
“High energy, great choreography and singing, moving stories.” Sally Mabelle
“Totally Impressed. The honesty of the cast is what will strike the most impact with teens.” Wendy Taylor
“I really enjoyed it. As a teacher myself, I realised I need to get to know my students’ stories” Ken Patten
“It was an amazing, excellent work . I learned not to bully others and be nice to myself and others” 5 year old girl.
Under the direction of Lisa Brickell, the multi-ethnic cast members of iChoose wowed the 210 strong audience at the dress rehearsal of the show held at the Soka Gakkai International of NZ Culture Centre in Ellerslie, Auckland on Saturday 23 February.