Ida Baker High performance to raise awareness of school violence
Raising awareness of school violence is the focus of Ida S. Baker High’s newly founded drama club’s production of “Bang, Bang, You’re Dead.”
Written in 1999 by William Mastrosimone, it’s a one-act play tackling the growing issue of violence in schools by musing the Kip Kinkel shootings at Thurston High School in Springfield, Ore., when Kinkel shot his parents and 27 classmates in 1998 — one year before the highly-publicized massacre at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colo.
“He wrote a script to start a dialogue between students to talk about not bullying and not using violence to deal with problems,” said Laura Licata, drama teacher and club advisor at Ida S. Baker High.
The club was formed this year and currently has 20 members, 12 of which are performing in “Bang, Bang, You’re Dead” Wednesday at 7 p.m. inside the high school’s auditorium.
Like every other student at Ida S. Baker High, those in the drama club try to give back to the community. The school has a requirement of students to participate in some community service activity before they graduate.
“It’s part of the drama club’s mission to help the community through performances bringing social awareness to a problem that might be occurring,” said Licata.
“Bang, Bang, You’re Dead” follows a high school student named Josh who is in jail for killing his parents and classmates when he is visited by the ghosts of those he murdered. In 2002 it was made into a film starring Ben Foster which premiered on Showtime.
“They haunt him and he realizes through the haunting that not only has he lost everything, but the characters have lost everything,” she said.
Licata said it is a very simple production with uncomplicated sets and costumes so the audience can focus on the message of school violence, adding that the show’s theme boils down to one simple message: “Life is real, it’s not a game where you can hit the reset the button and start again.”
Corey Jakubuwski, a ninth grade student at Ida S. Baker, is the show’s assistant stage manager. This production is his first venture into the performing arts and he said the cast has all become close during rehearsals.
“It’s a great play, it doesn’t make sense at first but once you get the message it hit hard,” he said. “It really makes you think.”
This type of production is designed to make students think about how they treat others. Jakubuwski said there are many circumstances when students think they are innocently joking with others, but are in fact acting in a harassing manner.
The school production coincides with National Youth Violence Prevention Week which runs from March 22-26. Each day throughout the week highlights a specific action that youth can employ to avoid violence: promoting respect and tolerance, managing your anger, resolving conflicts peacefully, supporting safety and uniting in action.
Drama club students will be passing out blue ribbons — representing the cause of non-violence — to everyone who attends the performance on Wednesday.
“It’s a promise ribbon for the kids to make better choices and be aware of school violence,” said Licata.
Bullying and school violence are growing issues in school districts across the nation. Last year the Lee County School District implemented a new bullying, harassment and cyber-bullying policy following the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up For All Students Act created by a Cape Coral mother whose son committed suicide after years of falling victim to bullying.
The district provides training to teachers on how to deal with bullying and violence, and students can now anonymously report any behavior they deem to be harassment.
Tickets for “Bang, Bang, You’re Dead” are $3 each and can be purchased the night of the show. Licata said the ticket price covers production costs and the purchase of blue ribbons for the audience.
Student actors include Juan Torres, Jessie Portiddio, Corrine Azbart, Alexis Edward, John Strealy, Daniel Kuhn, Gabriel Perez, Rachel Camacho, Tiffany Wason, Alison Eicher and Victor Hagenbucher.