“The children almost broken by this world become the adults most likely to change it” -Frank Warren
This quote explains the work of The Bullycide Project, a 50 minute theatrical production that travels to schools in Michigan and around the world to help create anti-bullying awareness. Trust Theatre Ensemble artistic director Lori Thompson and her ensemble of actors ranging in age from 13 to 50 have created a production that has literally changed and saved lives.
The Bullycide Project is based on the book Bullycide in America compiled by Brenda High and written by mothers who have lost a son or daughter to suicide due to excessive bullying. The Bullycide Project chronicles the life and death of nine individuals of bullycide. Lori Thompson and the cast of The Bullycide Project have interviewed the families and friends of bullycide individuals so that the story of who they were, how they celebrated holidays, how they showcased their talents, how they were bullied, and how they died can be told authentically. The ensemble of The Bullycide Project use and wear actual belongings of bullycide individuals as well as have traveled to the “sacred place” where the bullycide individual took his/her life.
The Bullycide Project also tells stories from the perspective of the “bully,” the “bystander,” the “upstander,” the “outcast,” and so many other extensions of the subject matter. Not only is it important that the audience members learn the stories of bullycide but also the stories from the bully, bystander, and from individuals who have overcome bullying and thoughts of suicide. The Bullycide Project does an excellent job of telling the whole story of bullying, the effects that it can bring, and the solutions that can be provided when individuals speak up and ask for help or assist those in needing help.
One of the most effective elements of The Bullycide Project is the “talkback” session. The talkback session takes place after the production and allows the audience to “decompress.” The production is powerful and brings emotions to the surface. The talkback allows for students to ask further questions about bullycide, share personal testimonies of being bullied, and to participate in various role playing scenarios that help provide students with the appropriate words to stand up for themselves in bullying situations. Here are some testimonies from students and educators after seeing The Bullycide Project:
“I watched the performance today, first off, congrats on a great performance. It really touched my heart and I was able to relate directly to a few of the stories. In fact, while standing in the lunch line I heard a boy saying he wanted to apologize to some people for bullying them. It was good to see that it touched people other than myself.”
“I was in the audience for the Kearsley High School performance that you guys performed for us. I was overwhelmed at first by it, it was amazing an amazing performance and it changed me as a person. I will never be the same again. I will take a stand for people. Speak out for someone being bullied.”
“Well after seeing your group performing at Edsel Ford High School I was just amazed at your performances. The Bullycide Project made me want to do the things you do. Helping kids with bullying and getting them through life so that they realize that life gets better and that you shouldn’t give your life up just because of some stupid bullies”
“We can no longer be indifferent.”
“I just wanted to thank you again for the amazing performances yesterday. As a result, we have already had students come down to us to report potential suicide risks. THANK YOU for raising awareness with our entire student body! You are really doing something special.”
The Bullycide Project has traveled to over 100 schools since its first performance at Mott Children’s Health Center in October 2010. Since then, The Bullycide Project has had the following opportunities:
Featured on the national television show CBS 48 Hours in their episode Words Can Kill
Keynote presentation at the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit in Washington, D.C.
Recipient of the National Hero Award by Michael Barrett creator of Heroes in the Hallway
Keynote presentation at the Girl Bullying and Empowerment conference
Featured on CNN Impact Your World
Featured on CNN Don Lemmon Show
Recipient of the Peacemaker of the Year Award
The most rewarding fact of The Bullycide Project is the opportunity to bring theatre and social issues together for effective change. Lives have been changed and saved due to the raw, realistic, empowering words spoken in the production. Depicting the stories of bullycide individuals, meeting and working with their families, has been a humbling experience and an incredible journey.
Kevin Epling, father of Matt Epling who died by bullycide in July 2002, once said to us: “To the World You May be One Person, but to One Person You are the World.”
It is for this reason that we do what we do. We will continue to be that “one” person. To “speak for those who can’t.”
For booking information contact
The Bullycide Project @www.trustheatrensemble.org