For all its blood and eerie superpowers, Carrie isnt just a scary movie. Its the cinematic poster child for bullying.
By JENEÉ OSTERHELDT
The Kansas City Star
This shy teen, created by Stephen King in 1974, is not only an outcast at school. She suffers from abuse at home, where her mom uses religion as a weapon. Carrie, with all her telekinetic powers, feels powerless.
So its fitting that now, during National Bullying Prevention Month, comes not only a remake of Brian De Palmas classic movie but also Carrie: The Musical, Egads! Theatre Companys campy yet serious look at the problem.
Bullying is an epidemic, and teens are dying. Earlier this week Florida officials charged two girls, ages 12 and 14, with felonies for allegedly bullying 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick, who last month leaped to her death. Sadly, this is not an uncommon story among todays teens.
On Saturday, Carrie: The Musical is hosting a $10 teen night at Crown Centers Off Center Theatre, designed to get youth engaged in the conversation so critical to their generation.
Already, students from Grandview, Shawnee Mission East and Blue Valley have come out to shows. Jeff Mace, an art teacher at Orrick High School, east of Liberty, has seen the play twice. Hes taking a group of his students to see the musical Saturday.
Its a serious subject matter, and the musical addresses it in a way that you can appreciate the seriousness, but it also allows you to laugh, says Jeff, who also sponsors the schools drama club. I like to introduce my students to unusual theater. And I think that most teenagers and most people can certainly relate to the topic of bullying, whether they see it first-hand or know of other students who have been bullied.
The Egads! theater manager, Barb Eubank, initially had reservations about seeing Carrie: The Musical.
I am not a fan of horror movies, she admits. I have never seen the original Carrie. But I was so surprised by the score, by the lyrics of the songs. I was deeply touched by this underlying heartfelt message sung in the final moments by the ensemble of teens: What does it cost to be kind.
You come to care deeply for Carrie, and you even see through her bully, Chris. You start to see how Chris came to be so cruel, the role her father played in the bullying.
Barb has witnessed bullying and its traumatic effects for 39 years. Shes a teacher, and her experience is long. Shes taught reading and English in middle schools and high schools, shes been a school counselor and now she teaches aspiring teachers at Longview Community College. It was her decision to introduce teen night during the musicals month-long run and reach out to schools.
As a young teacher who had no training in bullying prevention, I often felt helpless and overwhelmed by the devastation that teens could inflict on one another, she says. Years later, while I was a secondary school counselor in tiny Lone Jack, I found success in reaching teens by engaging them directly in activities that helped them cross boundaries and created understanding and acceptance.
Some might think its strange that a scary movie be the catalyst to bullying prevention. But if youve ever heard the sad stories of bullied students or read the growing number of suicide headlines, you know that bullying is a horror story, a boogie monster that we all need to stand up to.