Those who missed the original play Dear Me during last month's Anne Frank Project (AFP) will have another opportunity to see it. Two encore performances, October 17 and 22 at 12:15 p.m. in the Donald Savage Theater and Communication Building's Flexible Theatre, will be free and open to the public.
Seven students in the Ensemble Theater course wrote the play in collaboration with Rwandan students, artists, and teachers during a trip to Africa last January. The story focuses on an American high school student grappling with the aftermath of a friend’s suicide. The student writes a letter to his friend and in the process makes important discoveries about himself.
"Issues of belonging, friendship, self-identity, bullying, and conflict-resolution are explored through the eyes of multiple global cultures,” said Eve Everette, AFP assistant director, who oversaw the creation of the play. “The theme is that you can always connect. You have a whole community you can reach out to in a time of need or you could help someone else. It’s a simple concept, but sometimes it takes a dramatization for people to get it.”
The play also includes a cathartic experience for the audience. After the 40-minute production, each audience member is asked to write a letter to someone with whom they have lost connection and then share it with the person sitting next to them. This exercise resulted in a lively dialogue among freshmen at McKinley High School where the group performed the play two weeks ago as part of the Anne Frank in the Schools Project.
“Our students were blown away. They didn’t know how much the play would affect these students. A few wrote down things they had never told anyone before,” Everette said. “The McKinley teachers, social workers, and counselors were very inspired by how the students responded. Even in the days following, students were showing more empathy toward one another.”
In the coming weeks, the theater group will return to McKinley to perform Dear Me for the sophomore class. They also will be touring the production at other high schools, as well as to a diverse list of community groups, including the National Federation for Just Communities, the Salvation Army, and the Twentieth Century Club of Buffalo.