Marianas High School students, under the direction of Barbara Sher, are set to perform in early June an original, improvisation-based play about various teen issues called Choices.
The production is the brainchild of Sher, who has directed similar productions in the past with students and community members. As part of the process, the student actors identified five issues that teens today have with their teachers, parents, culture, friends, and romance. The actors then explored these issues using improvisation exercises in order to use their own words and perspectives.
For Sher, it was important that students find their own voice on the many issues facing teens today. “I invited them to look at their individual situations in their own life and decide if there are other ways to view their experience,” she said.
Sher acknowledged that the process was difficult at times. “Keeping with the negative perspective brings discomfort.”
She asked students to consider, “Do we want to want to stay with a negative interpretation or do we want to see what’s positive? Are there other ways, other choices? What will you choose? What will you do?”
By encouraging the student actors to explore their options in their own words, Sher said the result is an organic script that is “poignant…authentic…and funny, like life!”
For Sher, helping students tackle difficult issues in art and play is nothing new. In addition to her career as an occupational therapist who works with special needs students, she is an award-winning author known as “The Games Lady” who has published numerous bestselling books including Smart Play, Extraordinary Play with Ordinary Things, and Moving Right Along. A regular contributor to Parenting for Special Needs and Sensory Focus magazines, Sher has been recognized by amazon.com as a “tireless advocate of the vanishing art of kid’s play [whose] books, CDs, workshops, and podcasts have unlighted and inspired parents, caregivers, and teachers worldwide in 10 languages.”
Sher has spent much of her professional life and work here in the CNMI, helping students and community members find meaning and purpose in various forms of play, including the play of theatre. Choices is just one of many such projects that seek to empower its participants through the spontaneity and engagement of theatre.
Choices will run on June 8 and 9 starting at 7pm at the American Memorial Park Visitor Center theater. Sponsored by the CHC-CGC Youth Suicide Prevention program, the performances will be free to the public, but seating is limited to 100. Donations will be accepted at the door for similar future projects. For more information about the show, email Sher at firstname.lastname@example.org. (PR)