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Bullying: ‘This generation’s issue’

March 4, 2013

Published by Metro

Prejudice, bullying and civil rights: They’re not typical themes for a kids show, but that doesn’t daunt the Boston Children’s Theatre.

“We have a responsibility to tell the stories that young people are living,” says Burgess Clark, the director and playwright behind the BCT’s production of “Reflections of a Rock Lobster.”

The play is adapted from the autobiography of Aaron Fricke, who sued his Cumberland, R.I. high school in 1980 for the right to take his boyfriend to the prom.

Though it happened more than 30 years ago, the story of Fricke’s struggle and courage is as relevant as ever today.

“I think that this particular issue of equality is really this generation’s issue,” says Clark. “It seems to be very defining, based on the passion that we received from young people.”

In the beginning, Clark wasn’t sure how to approach the story for a youth audience, so he held a workshop with teen actors.

“They were the ones that pushed it and said ‘Let’s tell it as it is. Use the four-letter words. Let’s make this as realistic as what we see in the hallway every single day,’ recalls Clark. “They feel it’s their story.”

The BCT premiered the play last March. The responses from audiences inspired the theater to bring the production back for a second season.

“We had cases where kids and a teacher came out to their classes after seeing the show,” says Burgess. “It seemed to inspire people in a very positive way.”

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