Heathers 101 - December 01 - December 09, 2017

Curtain Call Performing Arts Center

 End Notes 

Heathers has always been a story that I embraced. I recall watching the movie again and again when I was in High School. The themes resonated with me - and not the violent themes. The outcast, wanting to be accepted - to be popular - THAT is what I was drawn to. I have been out of high school for 25 years. I have been an educator for 20 years. I am a mother of two teenagers. And I am still scratching my head over how the themes of Heathers are still prevalent today.

 

Cliques.

Bullying.

Intimidation.

Harrassment.

 

Why do these issues continue to plague young people?

 

Heathers - albeit dark and cruel and at times uncomfortable - has valuable lessons within the text. Lessons about inclusion, kindness, acceptance, self love, treating others with dignity and respect...

 

As adults, it is our job to model these behaviors. But if you watch the news - especially these days - it is easy to see how young adults get mixed messages.

 

As an educator not only do I have the responsibility of teaching a curriculum, but I also believe that I have an obligation to provide a safe, nurturing and non-judgmental environment so that my students can thrive. I strive to model the behaviors of authenticity, kindness, compassion and above all - respect. To be able to provide a space (whether a classroom or a stage) for young people to BE WHO THEY ARE without judgement is one of the most rewarding parts of what I do. And as the director of Heathers, when working on particularly uncomfortable scenes/songs, I would share with the cast that I, too, was uncomfortable. Some of the content that is in this High School Edition brings up some very serious scenarios that young people will likely experience all too soon. So by making them aware that those behaviors are NOT ok, it is my hope that these young adults will become UPSTANDERS and not bystanders to inappropriate behaviors and situations.

 

Overall, I am tremendously proud of this cast for tackling this material.

 

Not only is it difficult thematically, but also musically. They have dug in their heels and embraced the work that needed to be done. And with the guidance of the creative team - Phil, Jess and Tama - these talented young adults are about to take you on a journey of acceptance, love and respect. You WILL be shocked along the way, but theatre was created to explore humanity and put it out there so that we can collectively and personally reflect, find empathy and walk out two and a half hours later with a new perspective. We cannot grow if we are not challenged. And it is NEVER too late in life to embrace change.

 

With gratitude,

Anne Kessler

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