Theater troupe takes on bullying

RAPID CITY, SD (AP) – Playing a bully on stage means that 11-year-old Trent Counsellor has to say “some not very nice words.”

“I didn’t think that fit me, because I’m not a bully, but it’s improv,” said Trent, a student at South Middle School.

As a member of Cherry Street Players, Trent is helping to bring the problem of bullying to the stage in a collection of six scenes and three monologues called “The Bully Plays,” to be presented this weekend at the Performing Arts Center.

“Some of them are funny and some of them are also just sad,” said Trent.

Each piece deals with bullying from the children’s perspective. In “Beasts,” a boy confronts a creature in ancient Greece and learns a different perspective on who’s really the beast. In “The Bully Pulpit,” a girl goes on an anti-bullying campaign, but has to face her own bullying. And in “Her,” a clique of high school bullies targets a girl at school, with tragic results.

That foray into drama is a stretch for Cherry Street, known more for its lighthearted productions, including this spring’s “The Little Mermaid.” The children’s theater troupe, an outreach of Black Hills Community Theatre, is for youths ages 7 to 17, with fall and spring sessions offered. Michael Kraklio, BHCT’s managing artistic director, and Stephen Farrugia, Cherry Street’s director, said they wanted to challenge the troupe.