SoL Theatre Co. actors line up against bullies
Arts and Entertainment Correspondent
CARBONDALE – SoL Theatre’s new improvisational troupe, Artists Creating Truth or A.C.T., is on a mission. The improv group sees performance art as a way to empower people to make a difference in society.
“Basically it’s social change theatre,” says Logan Carter, SoL Theatre’s artistic director and A.C.T.’s co-director with Carieann Asani.
When starting as a grassroots effort this summer as part of SoL (which stands for Stage of Life Theatre), the improv group envisioned creating a powerful performance centered around socially relevant topics in the valley’s schools and community.
The first troupe of A.C.T., appropriately titled A.C.T. One, is an all-female cast of teen girls tackling a subject that affects millions of school children across America, bullying.
“When we sat down with the troupe and discussed what we wanted the first improv production to be about, bullying came up a lot,” Carter said.
SoL has partnered with the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities (CCAH) and Access Roaring Fork to present the original work of art, called “Original,” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Carbondale Middle School.
To create awareness of the troupe and its goal to create social change, the group has been traveling the valley doing free shortened performances at school assemblies and class presentations.
“The performance targets bullying and teaches a message about embracing our individuality and encouraging acceptance of differences among peers in our schools,” Carter said.
“Original” was named for the fact that the troupe collaboratively wrote and produced the show suitable for children ages 12 and older. Carter said “Original” targets bullying and teaches a message about embracing individuality.
“It encourages acceptance of differences among peers in our schools,” she said. “The message is for everybody. The message is universal.”
She said many of the nine girls in the cast have bravely confronted their own bullies through the performances at their own schools. That challenge has been inspiring, Carter said.
“I am really shocked by the maturity of the girls,” she said. “Many of the girls are facing their own situations, so it’s sort of therapeutic for them.”
“Original” features topics often facing teens, including bullying and peer pressure, using improvisational artistic expression such as spoken word and music.
“Every girl in the troupe sings,” Carter said. “We decided it’s our show and we could do whatever we wanted, and all the girls decided they wanted to sing. The cast basically created everything in the show. It’s all about being yourself.”
Carter said the performance provides the group’s take on solutions to intimidation and bullying, especially in an age of easily shared information through social networks. The last scene of “Original” is solution-based, she said.
“We looked at the resources available, and came up with our own solutions,” Carter said. “We literally asked, ‘What does the world say about this?’ and ‘How can we fix this?’ It is very eye-opening for the adults.”
Carter said at one of the free performances at the Carbondale Community School this week, an adult approached her in tears.
“She said the show really moved her,” Carter said.
Any student who has attended a school performance will receive half off the public shows.
In December, SoL Theatre presents “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” which will feature student actors ages 6-12.
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