Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

CTC takes anti-bullying play to New Orleans

Courtesy Calvin Theater Company

Bullying is an issue we’ve all heard about, yet it continues to be a serious problem for students across the country. In recent years, many anti-bullying efforts have begun to take active action against bullying, and Calvin Theatre Company is playing its own role in changing the conversation about bullying with their production of “You Make a Difference: No More Bullying.”

Written and directed by Calvin professor Dr. Debra Freeberg, with music by Calvin alumnus Tricia Bayfield, “You Make a Difference” centers around the issue of bullying in middle school and encourages students to take active steps against bullying. Freeberg felt the need to write this play after her daughter experienced bullying, and she chose to use theater as the medium for creating a dialogue around the issue.

The hour-long musical tells the story of three middle schoolers who are bullied at school: Sticks for his enthusiasm and lack of social skills, Pellagia for her African accent and Diamond for acting like a thug. The play follows the characters as they resiliently stand together against bullying.

“The main message of this play is to show people that in order for bullying to stop, it starts with me and you; it starts with us,” said sophomore Katarina Fenn. The play is intended for a middle school audience and seeks to encourage students that each of us can stand up to make a difference when it comes to bullying.

While bullying is an issue many of us are familiar with, it is an issue that still needs to be addressed. In fact, Michigan was recently ranked the top state in the nation suffering with issues of bullying.

“Bullying is sadly still so prevalent in our schools,” said Fenn. “This play helps others realize that stepping up for those who are bullied helps, and taking the first step is hard but worth it.”

The play first debuted at Calvin last interim as a part of a theater workshop class. Last weekend, CTC reprised the play as it prepares to take the show to New Orleans in November.

Performing in this show has been a unique experience for many CTC members, since they aren’t just performing to entertain an audience, but to engage in discussion about a social issue.

“The reality of the bullying content can be heavy, draining and hard to deal with sometimes,” said sophomore Sophia Medawar. “This show is more personal and raw, presenting a real problem with the youth in our society.”

While the play addresses heavy subject matter, “You Make a Difference” acknowledges the power we each have to stop bullying. Medawar shared, “It has helped me realize that we still have a responsibility to one another to take a stand.”

The Calvin Theatre Company has been invited to perform the play “You Make a Difference” at the International Bullying Prevention Association’s annual conference in New Orleans this fall. A group of Calvin students performing in the play will travel to New Orleans this November, where they will open the conference with their performance.

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About the Contributor
Katie Ulrich, On-Call Writer
Katie is an on-call writer for Chimes who is studying strategic communication and international development studies. She is a senior from Harrisburg, Penn., but Grand Rapids feels like home to her more and more each day. She’ll take any chance she gets to travel somewhere new, and she tends to drink an obscene amount of coffee. She loves getting to connect with others,and cares deeply about pursuing justice and equality for people across the globe.